Ministers defend PM as Prescott reveals feuds inside Downing St
Senior ministers last night rallied to Gordon Brown's defence as his leadership headed into a perfect storm over policy disputes, a looming byelection mauling, and attacks on his authority led by the arch-loyalist, John Prescott.
With opinion polls reporting that as few as one in five voters believes the prime minister is doing a good job - and that Labour is set to lose the Crewe byelection on May 22 - Brown enters another critical week for his embattled government against a volley of criticism from rival authors, each with a ringside seat in the fights which punctuated the Blair-Brown decade.
Prescott's autobiography reveals he grew so exasperated with the pair's feuds he urged Blair to sack his chancellor and Brown to resign and fight from the backbenches. "Neither could take the final step. They were caught in their own trap," he said. Both were aware that open warfare would tear Labour apart. Blair broke promises to resign, and Brown frequently sulked, he added.
Yesterday's Sunday Times serialisation of Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches found itself in unexpected competition with Cherie Blair's candid memoir, Speaking for Myself, serialised in the Murdoch-owned Times. In media interviews which further angered No 10 - including one in today's Guardian - Lord Levy, Labour's fundraiser turned memoir-writer, accuses Blair and Brown of letting him down.