I'm not seeking leadership, insists Johnson

The new Home Secretary Alan Johnson today insisted he was not seeking the leadership of the Labour Party, and said he was backing Gordon Brown "to the hilt" to continue as Prime Minister.





Mr Johnson said he would "never say never" to becoming Prime Minister at some point, but insisted he could see no circumstances at present where he would mount a bid for the post.

He insisted that Mr Brown was "absolutely the best person for this job".

Mr Johnson is the bookmakers' favourite to replace Mr Brown if he steps aside, but has been careful to avoid any suggestion that he is angling for a move to 10 Downing Street.

Following his move from Health Secretary to the Home Office in today's reshuffle, Mr Johnson told Sky News: "I am supporting Gordon Brown. I am backing Gordon Brown. I have no ambition to be the leader. I have never had any ambitions to be the leader."



Many Labour activists and some MPs are thought to believe that the party would do considerably better in the coming election with Mr Johnson at its helm, and he is understood to be the rival most feared by David Cameron's Conservatives.

But Mr Johnson said: "I'm long enough in the tooth to realise that these things have to be taken with a pinch of salt, not to get carried away by these things.

"I am flattered that people think highly of me. I want them to think highly of me as a Home Secretary in a Labour Government serving under the Prime Minister.

"I do genuinely believe - and I think I am in the majority here within the party and within the Cabinet - that Gordon is the best person for this job, absolutely the best person for this job."

Asked if he was ruling out ever seeking the Labour leadership and the post of Prime Minister, Mr Johnson replied: "I'm not saying under no circumstances would I ever run, because if you talked to most politicians they would never say never.

"But in terms of the position we are in at this moment, at this time, I can see no way that I would ever be Prime Minister and I'm certainly backing this Prime Minister to the hilt."

Mr Johnson rejected the claim of former Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell that Labour would have a "fighting chance" of winning the election only if Mr Brown stood aside.

"I disagree first of all with his analysis that we are less likely to win the next election under Gordon Brown," he said. "I think we are less likely to win the next election if we show complete disunity and we need to get a grip of this.

"We need to recognise that Gordon Brown is leading this country through some of the most turbulent times, a real economic maelstrom around the world that he is dealing with.

"On the other hand, the issue of Members' allowances has damaged all parties, dealing with that as well and tackling the issues like crime and health and education that are the bread and butter issues. It is a difficult job at the best of times and it is not a job that his own colleagues should be making more difficult through their actions."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn