PM 'small-minded' over Brown's bid for IMF job

David Cameron and George Osborne have been branded "petty and small-minded" for rejecting Gordon Brown's bid to become head of the International Monetary Fund.

Sir James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, heaped praise on the ex-chancellor and prime minister for leading the world through the financial crisis in 2009. He said: "Gordon Brown has proved that he has the leadership skills, the vision and the determination to bring the world together."

Writing in the London Evening Standard, Sir James said: "All candidates being considered have great talent but for me there is no greater candidate than Gordon Brown."

Mr Cameron made clear last month the Government would not endorse Mr Brown on the grounds he ran up a massive public deficit while in power. Mr Osborne confirmed at the weekend that Britain is backing the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as the IMF's managing director.

Privately, senior Conservatives admit that they have no desire to "rehabilitate" Mr Brown because that could undermine their attempt to blame Britain's deficit on alleged overspending by Labour rather than the global crisis. It could also jeopardise the Tories' prospects of winning an overall majority at the next general election. They are likely to portray Ed Miliband and the shadow Chancellor Ed Balls as the "sons of Brown".

With European countries rallying behind Ms Lagarde, Mr Brown is very much an outsider in the race for the IMF job. But the Government is facing a backlash for scuppering his prospects.

Lord Skidelsky, the cross-bench peer and economic historian, said he was astonished the Government ruled out Mr Brown so early in the process. "He certainly should have been one of the leading candidates. It is absolutely scandalous the British government is not putting him forward – in fact, it has done the reverse and made it clear that it would oppose him. He is incredibly well qualified. It seems to me very small-minded and petty."

Tom Watson, a Labour MP and close ally of Mr Brown, asked: "Whatever happened to the notion of country before party? What are Osborne and Cameron playing at? Other countries would never duck a chance to get one of their ex-prime ministers into a position of major international influence."

Although in theory Mr Brown could have been nominated for the IMF job without the support of his own nation, his hopes were effectively torpedoed last month when Mr Cameron dismissed him as "someone who didn't think we had a debt problem". Cameron aides insisted that there was no plot to block Mr Brown, and that the Prime Minister was merely giving a straight answer in a radio interview.

Mr Brown hosted a successful G20 summit in London in 2009 which backed a global stimulus, and his rescue of the banks was widely copied around the world. Although he has reminded world leaders of his credentials for the IMF post in recent weeks, he has failed to win the crucial backing of either the United States, France or Germany.

Candidates are due to be announced on 10 June with a final decision announced later in the month. Some emerging nations want to break with the long tradition of the IMF post going to a European and one candidate is Agustin Carstens, governor of Mexico's central bank. However, Ms Lagarde is seen as the front-runner and the crisis in the eurozone has strengthened the case for the job to remain in European hands for now.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road