Miliband & Milburn Forced to Back-Pedal on Cabinet Plot
In the face of furious loyal Brownite MP's, both Foreign Secretary and Health Minister Alan Milburn have been forced to deny they are involved in a machiavellian plot to depose of their leader. Milburn has today revealed he would TURN DOWN a coveted cabinet job if offered one by Brown in his expected Autumn reshiffle as it would have the effect of silencing him.
One party insider said that the "wheels had come off" the Foreign Secretary's leadership bid following the Daily Telegraph's revelation that he is actively preparing for a contest in the event of Gordon Brown's departure.
The strength of the backlash will revive memories of Michael Portillo's 1995 aborted leadership coup, when the then-Defence Secretary was exposed as having installed phone banks in a premature move to campaign for the premiership if John Major was forced out of office.
A number of MPs revealed that they would be less likely to support Mr Miliband if he chose Mr Milburn, a former Health Secretary and close ally of Tony Blair, as a running mate.
Others said they were appalled that the plotting had reached such an advanced stage.
As angry MPs rounded on the pair, Mr Miliband and Mr Milburn were both forced to deny that they had come to an agreement.
The denials were issued after details of the plan were revealed by a well-placed insider, who has asked to remain anonymous, to the Daily Telegraph.
Senior Government sources said they had suspected negotiations that had begun between the two men, but had not realised that the Foreign Secretary's preparations had got to such an advanced stage until reading about them in the paper.
One said: ``It's well known that Miliband has been talking to Milburn - it's an open secret.''
An MP loyal to Mr Brown added: "They are backtracking rapidly because they know how much this would annoy many people in the party.
"It has provoked fury amongst Labour MPs, so no wonder they are rushing to deny it.