Brown aides take on disloyal' Foreign Secretary Miliband

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London, July 31 : Key aides of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have launched a series of highly personal attacks on leadership rival and Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

According to The Telegraph, Miliband has been criticised for acting 'disgracefully and disloyally' after he repeatedly refused to rule out standing against the Prime Minister.

As part of an orchestrated and bitter counter-attack, sources at Number 10 suggested Miliband might be demoted as punishment for triggering the gravest crisis of Brown's premiership.

"If he has not got enough work to do, then maybe he needs to be given another job," one source was quoted, as saying.

"He [Miliband] needs to calm down and shut up. He also needs to grow up," another Brown ally said.

The Labour Party is now descending into civil war after Miliband ratcheted up the pressure on Brown in a newspaper article in which he set out his own personal leadership manifesto.

Following the party's humiliating defeat in last week's Glasgow East by-election, he argued that Labour could only beat the Tories if there was a change in style and direction of the leadership.

The article pointedly failed to acknowledge that Brown - who is currently on holiday - was the man to lead the party's recovery.

Following publication, Miliband was urged by Downing Street to temper his remarks at scheduled Foreign Office press conference, but fell way short of offering full backing for Brown's continued leadership.

Number 10 has indicated that Miliband has "one more chance" to "clarify" his position when he appears on radio today after refusing to rule out challenging Brown four times

The Prime Minister has been urged by his supporters to sack the Foreign Secretary for disloyalty

Senior Cabinet ministers, including all serious contenders for his job pointedly failed to back Brown publicly

Two former ministers, including Peter Mandelson, backed Miliband's article.

Previously loyal ministers such as Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, and Ed Miliband - the Foreign Secretary's brother and Cabinet Office Minister- will now come under intense pressure to back Brown publicly.

Number 10 is known to have doubts about the continuing support of both ministers.

Last night there were growing suggestions that Miliband may have the support of more Cabinet supporters than has so far emerged.

It is understood that fellow Blairite ministers James Purnell and Andy Burnham, who are both under 40, are ready to back Miliband.

Other 'big beasts' in the Labour Party such as Tony Blair and former Cabinet colleagues Charles Clarke, Alan Milburn and Stephen Byers are likely to support the Foreign Secretary in a leadership challenge.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, laughed off suggestions Labour could be about to replace Mr Brown with someone "young and hip". She said: "I don't think that's what we want at a time when people are worried about the economy."

ANI

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