Brown urged to spare Darling in reshuffle

Gordon Brown was tonight facing calls to spare Chancellor Alistair Darling as he prepared to reshuffle the Cabinet to shore up his tottering premiership.

Supporters of Mr Darling insisted there was no mood on the Labour backbenches for a change at the Treasury and they warned against a humiliating demotion for the Chancellor.

The Prime Minister is widely thought to want to install his old ally Children's Secretary Ed Balls in the Treasury in his shake up of his ministerial pack which could come as early as tomorrow.

However his calculations have been complicated by Mr Darling's reported refusal to accept a move to the Home Office.

Mr Brown is well aware that Mr Darling could trigger a run of other ministerial resignations if he was to walk away from the Cabinet - with potentially devastating consequences for his chances of survival at No 10.

Equally, failure to impose his will and move Mr Darling could be seen as a fatal sign of weakness at a time when plotters on the Labour backbenches are thought to be preparing to move against him.

With David Miliband also resisting any attempt to move him from the Foreign Office, the stakes for Mr Brown could not be higher.

The calls to keep Mr Darling as Chancellor were led by Labour Party vice chairman Stephen Ladyman who insisted that there was no justification for replacing him.

"He has done a fine job as Chancellor," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

"He took on a crisis that nobody could see coming. It wasn't of his making or the Government's making. He has dealt with it extremely well, he has led the world out of this crisis, so frankly I don't see any reason for moving him.

"Certainly, I don't think there is anybody who thinks he deserves to be demoted or humiliated in any way. He has done an excellent job."

Labour backbencher Eric Joyce said that Mr Darling should stay on to deal with the economic crisis.

"He has been a really first class Chancellor. At the moment we are facing the biggest economic crisis we have known for years. Gordon and Alistair seem to be the best placed to deal with it," he said.

Mr Brown spent the day working in Downing Street where his mood was said to be "determined".

"The Prime Minister is focused on getting the job done on renewing trust in our political system and our democratic processes and taking the kind of decisions that will help the British people get through difficult economic circumstances," a No 10 spokesman said.

After yesterday's high drama - which saw the resignation of Communities Secretary Hazel Blears in direct challenge to Mr Brown's authority - Westminster was unusually quiet as voters went to polls in the European and local council elections.

Backbench plotters who were preparing to circulate a round-robin email to Labour MPs calling on Mr Brown to stand down appeared to be lying low until the polls close at 10pm tonight.

Labour is braced for a mauling - although with most councils not counting until tomorrow and the European election results not due until Sunday evening - it will be the end of the weekend before the full damage becomes clear.

It is thought the rebels - who were said to be hoping to get the support of at least 80 MPs signatures - will release their list of backers at some stage over the coming days in a bid to force Mr Brown's hand.

All the signs were however that he was determined to fight back against any attempt to remove him.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones