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Prescott: "Disunity kills parties"

The former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, has risen to the defence of Gordon Brown.

Prescott, who was deputy prime minister from 1997 until Mr Brown succeeded Tony Blair last year, spoke of the Premier as a "man who could be trusted".

He warned Labour rebels that disunity would "kill" Labour and it would face defeat at the next general election.

The Government is dealing with a "financial crisis" and Mr Brown is the right person to lead the country through those problems, he said.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today: "The public is listening to Labour - all it hears it talking about is leadership.

"For God's sake, they are worried about their jobs, they are worried about the future. They want somebody who can handle global problems, and Gordon Brown is that man."

Asked about unnamed ministers who wanted Mr Brown to go, he said: "They have not identified themselves as such - that is one of the difficulties."

Mr Prescott, asked if it would have helped Mr Brown's authority if he had become Prime Minister after a "party election", said: "No ... we selected our leader... now get on in dealing with the problems."

He added: "Disunity kills parties, whether it's Tories or Labour, and after 10 years it's amazing that we should be allowing a climate of opinion to undermine the kind of confidence in our party as to the role of a Labour Government.

"I think if there's disunity, any party, all parties lose - the evidence is absolutely clear."