Brown faces 'quit now' calls from Labour MPs

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London, May 24 : Pressure is mounting on British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to quit for the sake of the future of his New Labour Party in the wake of the Crewe by-election "catastrophe".

According to The Times, Cabinet Ministers and Labour MPs are convinced that they can not win with Brown at the helm.

The paper further goes on to say that Britain's Justice Secretary Jack Straw has been tasked with the responsibility of telling Brown that his party has lost confidence in him and that he should step aside unless there is a swift improvement in New Labour's fortunes.

Graham Stringer has been the first Labour MP to call for Brown to go, saying that the party needed a new leader to save it from "disaster" at the next election.

Ivan Lewis, the Health Minister, said that Crewe and Nantwich, where the Conservatives overturned a 7,000 Labour majority to win with their own majority of nearly 8,000, could mark the "beginning of the end" for New Labour.

Cabinet sources said that a majority of ministers now doubted whether New Labour could turn around its current deficit with Brown in charge. Senior ministers told The Times privately that the party could not do nothing if it seemed to be heading towards certain defeat.

They said that a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on June 2 would be critical to Brown's future. If the Prime Minister fails to impress, there is speculation that a senior party figure is ready to go public and call for him to quit.

One former Cabinet minister said there was a 20 to 30 per cent chance that Brown would himself offer to step down if he believed that doing so would help his party.

No immediate moves against Brown appeared likely. Most ministers believe that he must be given until at least the conference season to re-establish himself.

Meanwhile, Brown has brushed aside questions about his leadership and promised to steer the country through difficult times after the formerly safe Cheshire seat fell to the Conservatives with a 17.6 per cent swing.

Tory leader David Cameron hailed the result as the "end of New Labour" and promised to build his own "coalition for change" to take the Tories back to power.

MPs believe that it is the duty of the Cabinet to tell Brown that he has become a liability if they perceive that to be the general view in the party.

Straw, on the other hand, does see himself as a potential leader to replace Brown.

One senior critic of Brown said the Crewe result was a catastrophe, particularly after the Government had suddenly come up with 2.7 billion pound to appease taxpayer who had lost out on the 10p tax rate abolition.

Ed Balls, the country's Schools Secretary said: "These are difficult times, times when you need strong leadership, values and experience. Gordon Brown has the right values and experience as a leader, but it is not going to be turned around in a week."

Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, said: "If people think we are more interested in turning in on ourselves rather than facing up to dealing with the problems that people face in their daily lives, they will punish us for it."

ANI

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