Insights from the UK and beyond
For Gordon Brown on his U.S. trip it has been a case of when the cat is away the mice will play. While Brown was at the White House working to shore up the “special relationship” with President George W. Bush, rebellion broke out in Labour ranks at home.
First, Labour peer Lord Desai launched an extraordinary attack on Brown, telling the Evening Standard: “Gordon Brown was put on earth to remind people how good Tony Blair was.”
Then it emerged that a junior member of Brown’s government, Angela Smith, was threatening to resign over Brown’s abolition of the 10 pence tax rate — a move that many Labour MPs fear will hit the low-paid and hurt Labour in May 1 local elections.
Smith’s on-off resignation was played out in real time on the 24-hour news channels. And just as Brown was about to give a news conference with Bush at the White House, news that Smith had told colleagues she was ready to quit broke.