After weeks of mounting pressure, Gordon Brown confirmed last night that the Labour Government will stand down at the next general election, though still insisted that it had done nothing wrong. The credibility of the Government has been greatly tarnished in recent weeks with senior ministers quitting, the expenses scandal, backbench revolts and last night’s embarrassment of 10 Downing Street resigning as the Prime Minister’s house.
‘Unfortunately it has got to the point where the level of criticism and media attention is distracting from the excellent job we are doing running the country,’ said the Prime Minister. ‘I simply cannot allow this to go on for any longer than the period leading up to the next general election.’ He resisted calls from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Government ministers for the Government to go now, saying that it would only undermine his efforts to steer the country through these difficult times if that job were to be done by somebody else. And in a final bid to assert his authority and demonstrate that he was providing clear direction, Gordon Brown announced that plans were already well advanced for the Labour party’s spell in Opposition.
Bemused voters were met with the news as they arrived at polling stations yesterday seeking to cast their vote in the local and European elections. Having been asked to indicate their preferred party, Labour voters were escorted to a private area away from the voting booths where they were informed by officials that the Government had not made it through the night. Counsellors were on hand to help the bereaved, many of whose grief was compounded by learning that arrangements to ensure an orderly transition of power could take anything up to a year. In order to say their farewells, and as an alternative to voting, Labour supporters were then given the opportunity to sign a condolence book which will tour the country in the coming months before being delivered to Downing Street on the eve of the next general election. The funeral of the Labour Party is being organised by Hazel Blears, who has asked for any donations to be sent directly to her, care of the fees office.