Rebel MPs plot anti-Brown protest at conference

Rebel Labour MPs who want to oust Gordon Brown are secretly discussing plans for at least one minister to speak out against the leadership before the party's conference in Manchester. He or she would then have to resign, undermining the Prime Minister's attempt to stabilise his position.

Another tactic being discussed is for a wave of resignations by ministers outside the Cabinet after the conference, at least three of whom are said to be considering their positions, and their parliamentary private secretaries. That would echo the so-called "curry house plot" by Brownites two years ago, when resignations forced Tony Blair to reveal his departure timetable.

However, Brown allies dismissed the threat, accusing a handful of MPs of trying to "destabilise" the Prime Minister so that they could claim he could no longer do his job effectively. Cabinet ministers who have doubts about Mr Brown are appealing to the rebels to call a truce so that Labour can unite at its conference. But the rebels made clear that they will not be silenced.

Even Brown loyalists are not giving him unconditional support. Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, told the BBC that there was no significant support for a rival candidate, but admitted the idea that Mr Brown should carry on regardless was "not a universal view – a number have spoken out in recent days – but I am not convinced it is the right time".

Today, Labour's ruling national executive committee (NEC) will stave off one potential threat to the Prime Minister by rejecting calls by 12 MPs for all Labour MPs to be given nomination papers for a party leadership contest. Rebels had requested papers in the hope of staging a "vote of no confidence" in Mr Brown even if they fail to muster the 70 MPs needed for a named alternative to force a leadership election.

Ray Collins, Labour's general secretary, will say that such forms have not been issued since the party came to power in 1997, and so there is no case to change the policy now.

Janet Anderson, who represents Labour MPs on the NEC, will call for the nomination papers to be sent out, saying this is in line with the party's rulebook. She said yesterday: "We cannot go on 'sleepwalking to oblivion', but we are and we will continue to do so if we do nothing to address the reasons why we have been so far behind in the polls. That means a root-and-branch review of our policies and how we communicate this to voters. And if that requires a change of leadership, so be it."

Another critic, Barry Gardiner, lost his job as Mr Brown's special envoy on forestry after accusing him of "vacillation, loss of credibility and timorous political manoeuvres that the public cannot understand".

But Margaret Beckett, the former cabinet minister, warned: "The British people will neither understand nor forgive a party that appears to be more concerned with its own internal disputes than with their very real problems." John Denham, the Skills Secretary, accused the rebels of pursuing "the politics of despair and destruction" and said they would not persuade him or other cabinet ministers to move against Mr Brown.

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
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower