Brown to offer key job to close friend

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London, Aug 15 : British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is preparing to offer one of his best friends a key job in Downing Street to help him to mastermind the Government's autumn fight-back.

Wilf Stevenson, who was previously the head of the controversial charity the Smith Institute, is being lined up as a strategy adviser to the Prime Minister and is expected to help draft radical new policies to win back voters.

He will join an increasing number of Number 10 advisers who have been recruited in an unsuccessful attempt to help Brown to reverse the sharp slump in his poll ratings, The Telegraph reported.

It comes amid growing speculation that the Prime Minister will face a leadership contest in the autumn and will need trusted aides to advise him on what may become a bitter fight for survival.

However, Stevenson's appointment is set to prove contentious as he previously headed the Smith Institute, which was investigated by the Charity Commission and Electoral Commission over its close links to Brown.

Stevenson is one of the Prime Minister's longest-standing friends and allies who was at Edinburgh University with Brown. It is hoped that he will provide a personal and confidential source of advice to Brown who has been criticised for being out of touch with voters and MPs.

However, he is likely to find animosity within Number 10 between longstanding aides of Brown who worked with him at the Treasury and new advisers drafted in earlier this year.

It is also not clear whether Stephen Carter, a former public relations executive, who was appointed the Prime Minister's chief of strategy and principal adviser in January, will welcome the appointment.

Stevenson is understood to have already been privately advising Brown on speeches and has long been expected to join the Downing Street team.

Negotiations are still thought to be underway about his exact role in Number 10 and the associated salary and other benefits.

ANI

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