Brown dismisses early succession and backs PM

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The Chancellor warned rebels, who are calling for him to take over power urgently, to focus on implementing the manifesto.

He made it plain he supports some of the radical reforms now threatened by the resurgent troublemakers on the Labour back benches who are trying to bring down Mr Blair. His remarks calling for the manifesto to be implemented may be seen as a "rap across the knuckles" for Mr Blair to avoid radical plans which were not included in Labour's election agenda.

But officials travelling with Mr Brown in the Middle East said he was keen to avoid being "split off" from Mr Blair by the Tories. He is determined to show a united front with Mr Blair until a smooth transmission of power, which may be brought forward.

Mr Brown told journalists that he rejected the calls by his supporters for a clear timetable to be set for the handover. "Tony Blair stood at the general election as the leader of the Labour party on the manifesto that we are implementing. Tony Blair must continue to implement the agenda on which we were elected. It is only six months since the general election.

"This is not about personalities. It is not about individuals. It is about the Labour Party being serious in implementing the manifesto on which we were elected."

He also dismissed suggestions that Mr Blair was going too far in the radical changes to primary care trusts and taking power away from local education authorities. "I think, if you read the manifesto carefully, we are implementing the manifesto. I don't think we should allow ourselves to be diverted by speculation about this or that. There are big challenges ahead and I am not going to be diverted from the big challenges that the country expects us to tackle." The Chancellor said the key challenges were over national security, the global economy and public sector investment.

He said Tony Blair had his full support in delivering the changes to deal with the "massive challenges", adding: "Tony Blair has my full support. I think it is very important that people know that the Labour Party is going to continue to implement the manifesto on which we were elected."

He conceded that the proposal for 90-day detention without charge for suspected terrorists on which the Government was defeated was not in the manifesto. But he avoided blaming Mr Blair for the apparent blunder in tactics in attempting to drive it through the Commons without a compromise.

He said: "Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has accepted responsibility for the decisions that were made on the Bill, which he took to the Commons."

Earlier, Mr Brown visited a Palestinian settlement and school at Ramallah. One teacher asked a class whether they wanted to be a finance minister when they grew up. Seeing no hands raised, Mr Brown said: "Nobody wants to be a finance minister, including me."

London will be hosting a series of meetings next month which would try to drive forward an economic road map for the Middle East.

The Palestinian and Israeli finance ministers have been invited to the G8 ministers' meeting at the start of December, the European finance ministers' meeting on 6 December and two further summits, a finance conference on the Middle East in London on 7 December and a donors' meeting on 13 December.

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