Prescott backs PM – by comparing him to the captain of the 'Titanic'

An attempt by John Prescott to rally support for Gordon Brown backfired after he compared the Prime Minister to the captain of the Titanic.

The former deputy prime minister's gaffe came as Blairite dissidents signalled a temporary ceasefire in their attempts to remove Mr Brown from office.

The Prime Minister's enemies are to keep their powder dry until the end of the month, but one predicted that September was set to be a "dramatic political month".

But attempts on both sides to lower the temperature over Mr Brown's leadership took a farcical turn in a rare blog by Mr Prescott on the Labourhome website. Referring to a party member who he had talked to about "getting a new captain", he said: "I always find it interesting when people use maritime analogies when they talk about leadership. But it wasn't the captain that sank the Titanic – a ship they claimed was unsinkable – it was the iceberg. The best way to avoid disaster is to manage your way around the problem."

Mr Prescott added: "Speaking as someone who's served on a ship and in a leadership, the best person to steer us through is a captain with the experience to navigate through these stormy financial global seas."

Rebel MPs are now intending to keep their counsel until the end of August, when Mr Brown returns to his Downing Street desk. They yesterday said they had decided to "put the brakes" on any further moves for the moment and said suggestions that a "blitz" of policy suggestions from former ministers such as Stephen Byers, Alan Milburn and Charles Clarke over the next few weeks were wide of the mark.

One senior party figure said: "We all need a period of calm throughout August."

Blairites also attempted to play down a leaked memo said to have been written by the former prime minister lamenting his successor's flawed leadership.

They confirmed its authenticity, but stressed it was written last September after the Labour conference and did not reflect his view today. One theory in Westminster last night was that the memo could have been written by Lord Gould of Brookwood, Mr Blair's former pollster.

The first details of Mr Brown's fightback next month emerged as Downing Street announced he would hold his first cabinet meeting on 8 September.

He has chosen to travel out of London for the session with his top team – who are likely to have emerged from a cabinet reshuffle the week before – in the West Midlands.

Downing Street said the point of leaving Westminster to hold the meeting was to engage with the public. A spokesman said: "We feel it is consistent with the Government's approach that it wants to listen and learn from the experiences of people in this country."

Tackling "fuel poverty" is now top of the agenda for the Prime Minister, who is devoting some of his time on holiday in Suffolk to planning his fightback.

Alistair Darling has this week taken over from Harriet Harman as the minister in London who is responsible for "co-ordinating Government activity".

Pressed on whether the Prime Minister still had confidence in the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, whose article last week was seen as a brazen attempt to stake his claim for the leadership, the spokesman replied: "Er ... the ... yes."

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: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms