A chat over coffee (with Tanya Joseph, Managing Director of Public Affairs, Grayling London)
What a week in the UK! Following a wave of high profile ministerial departures last week and a very poor performance in the local and EU elections, the smart bets were on Prime Minister Gordon Brown having to step down.
Europe Minister Caroline Flint was one of those who departed, launching a scathing attack on Brown following her resignation – saying the Prime Minister treated her “as female window dressing” and that he operated a “two-tier Government”.
But he remains there, albeit with his authority seriously undermined, and it is uncertain how much longer he will survive.
Last week’s Ministerial reshuffle vividly demonstrates the weakness of his position. Alan Johnson’s acceptance of the Home Secretary job was crucial in keeping the Prime Minister afloat, and he had been widely tipped to succeed Brown, but by taking on the Home Office portfolio he has signalled his support for the Prime Minister.
A real winner is former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson who has an enhanced role with his Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.
As an interesting footnote, it has almost gone unnoticed that Glenys Kinnock has been given a Government job as Europe Minister. She and her husband Neil – also a former EU Commissioner – remain significant figures in the Labour Party, and her arrival could signal a determination to bring unity to the beleaguered Party.
But Brown, ever steadfast, told assembled journalists late last week, “I will not waiver. I will not walk away. I will get on with the job and I will finish the work”.
For more thoughts on developments, please visit my blog.