Gordon Brown Stepping Down As British PM, Labour Leader
Gordon Brown announced today that he would be stepping down as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister in September:
Gordon Brown has announced he will resign as Prime Minister in the autumn even if Labour and the Liberal Democrats form a coalition government.
Mr Brown said he had asked the Labour Party to begin preparations for a leadership contest in which he will “play no part”.
His announcement on the steps of Downing Street was an attempt to woo the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg by offering his own resignation. But Mr Brown also made it clear that he would expect to stay on as Prime Minister for a few more months in order to put in place his programme for economic recovery.
In the most dramatic twist since the election results were announced, Mr Brown admitted that Labour’s defeat “is a judgment on me.”
He said: “If it becomes clear that the national interest can be best served by forming a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats then I believe I should discharge that duty to form that government which would in my view command a majority in Parliament in the Queen’s Speech and any other confidence votes.
“But I have no desire to stay in my position longer than is needed to ensure the path to economic growth is assured and the path to economic reform we have agreed moves forward quickly.
“The reason we have a hung parliament is that no single party and no single leader was able to win the full support of the country.
“As the leader of my party I must accept that that is a judgment on me.
As Andrew Sparrow notes at The Guardian, this is fairly obvious play on Brown’s part to woo Liberal Democrat MPs who are reluctant to enter into a coalition with the Tories:
This afternoon it became clear that Lib Dem MPs had reservations about the proposed deal with the Tories. Now Gordon Brown has slapped a counter-offer on the table. The Lib Dems could join Labour (and, Brown implied, the Scottish and Welsh nationalists and others) to form a “progressive” alliance. They would just about have a majority.
How long such a coalition would last is an open question, but it’s fairly clear that the Lib Dems would only be interested in such a deal to the extent that it would bring about the electoral reforms that they’ve made a central plank of their party platform. After those reforms are done, all bets are off.
In either case, though, it’s clear that the Brits won’t have Gordon Brown to kick around for much longer.