Coup is elephant in the corner at Cabinet meeting

The attempted coup against Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the great unmentionable at this morning's Cabinet meeting, where ministers went 90 minutes without uttering a single word about the plot which convulsed Westminster earlier this week.

Sitting around the Cabinet table in 10 Downing Street with six ministers who had been forced to deny having given tacit support to the plot, Mr Brown made no reference to the challenge to his authority from ex-ministers Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt.



Instead, he urged ministers to apply a "laser focus" to the problems facing Britain, especially the challenge of dealing with the disruption caused by the extended period of unusually cold weather.



Asked by reporters whether the failed putsch was discussed at the weekly meeting, Mr Brown's spokesman replied: "Not at all, and nor would you expect it to be."



The spokesman described the meeting as businesslike and "collegiate", with a series of ministers making contributions on issues ranging from the disruption caused by snow to the failed Christmas Day bomb attack on a US-bound airliner and the Government's food strategy.



The Cabinet met as a poll for The Sun suggested that the attempt by Mr Hoon and Ms Hewitt to force a secret ballot on Mr Brown's leadership has damaged Labour's standing with voters.



The YouGov survey, conducted after news of the plot emerged, put Labour on 30% - a point down on the party's score in a similar survey published by the newspaper just yesterday - with David Cameron's Conservatives rising two points to 42% - a lead of 12 points. The Liberal Democrats slipped one point to 16%.



A second poll for BBC2's Daily Politics found that while voters said, by a margin of 50% to 42%, that Labour would have "greater appeal" if Mr Brown stood aside, some 69% accepted that if he did so there were "no obvious more popular candidates".



The ComRes survey found 60% of those questioned thought Labour was the most divided of the main parties.



An upbeat Mr Brown yesterday laughed off the attempted putsch yesterday as "a storm in a teacup" but it has renewed intense speculation over the support he enjoys among senior colleagues.



Some faced criticism over their slow response to yesterday's plot and their apparently lukewarm expressions of support for the PM in the immediate aftermath.



Foreign Secretary David Miliband, seen by many as a potential successor, was among six ministers who have all denied a BBC report that they had offered tacit backing to the rebellion.



The regular weekly meeting was postponed from Tuesday to coincide with a planned regional tour of the south-west which was later cancelled because of the weather.



It comes as Mr Hoon faces local party bosses in his Nottinghamshire constituency over the bid to force a secret ballot of Labour MPs and peers on Mr Brown's leadership.



Activists were said by John Knight, the leader of Ashfield District Council, to be "shocked and disappointed" at his involvement and keen to pose "pertinent questions".



The MP is due at a regular meeting of the constituency party's general management committee.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker