Brown needs to improve or quit, says former Home Secretary Clarke
Prime Minister Gordon Brown should stand down as party leader if he cannot improve his government’s performance in the coming months, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke said yesterday.
Clarke said Labour was heading for “disaster” at the next election if it did not change course.
In a rare outbreak of dissent within the party, Clarke said that Brown had been a brilliant Chancellor of the Exchequer but now needed to set a “very clear leadership direction”.
Failing that, Clarke said Brown should stand down as prime minister “with honour” and the party should hold a leadership election.
When asked how long he thought Brown had to turn matters round, Clarke said: “I think it is a question of months.”
Yesterday allies of the Prime Minister rallied round him and offered their support after Clarke’s comments.
Since Clarke was sacked as Home Secretary in 2006 he has never hidden his doubts about Brown’s ability to lead the party.
Brown’s popularity has been in freefall since he opted against calling a snap general election last October.
Brown succeeded Tony Blair as Labour party leader and prime minister last summer.
He has suffered from growing malaise over the economic slowdown, the first run on a major bank in more than a century, a botched tax reform and fears of a housing market crash.
Labour has suffered a string of recent election setbacks with opinion polls suggesting David Cameron’s Conservatives are on course for a landslide victory at the next general election, which is due by May 2010.