London, Aug.10 : British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's attempt to project himself as the rightful successor to incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown has hit a roadblock of sorts, with UK's Minister of State for Schools, Jim Knight, becoming the first member of the government to criticize him publicly.
Suggesting that Miliband should come back from his holiday and knuckle down and "play his part his part in Gordon's government," Knight told the The Sunday Telegraph that while Miliband had some interesting points of view about future governance in the United Kingdom, he still needed to play his part in the present government.
"I read David's article and I thought he had some interesting things to say but ultimately I'm looking forward to Gordon coming back from holiday refreshed, batteries recharged and ready to carry on taking the decisions we need. I'm confident that he can show the bold leadership that we need. I'm sure David will enjoy his holiday and come back recharged and able to play his part in Gordon's government," Knight was quoted, as saying.
"Whether there is anything else behind what David said, I haven't discussed with him. But I think having said what he said, it's probably just as well that he's enjoying himself on holiday and that has allowed the rest of us to get on with the day to day stuff of politics and taking on the Tories," he added.
Knight's rejoinder comes as former Health Secretary Alan Milburn is reported to have ramped up pressure on Gordon Brown's beleaguered leadership by demanding controversial reforms in education and health.
Milburn, tipped to play a leading role in a future Miliband-led government, warned the Prime Minister: "A new agenda beckons."
Miliband triggered Labour's summer of in-fighting last month with a bombshell newspaper article in the wake of the party's defeat in the Glasgow East by-election in which he outlined his personal manifesto. He then refused to rule out a direct challenge to the Prime Minister in a series of media interviews before departing for a holiday in Minorca.
Up until now criticism of his actions from his government colleagues had been anonymous, but Knight has sent out a clear signal that he believed Miliband was positioning himself as Labour's leader-in-waiting and that it was a good thing he was not present to suffer the fall-out from his comments.
Asked whether he thought a Labour government led by Gordon Brown could win the next election, Knight said: "Yes I do.