Brown ends holiday by dismissing talk of crisis

Ben Russell,Political Correspondent
Thursday 21 August 2008 00:00 BST

Gordon Brown tried to shrug off questions over his leadership as he ended his summer break saying he would go on to win a general election.

Speaking as he left for China for the closing days of the Beijing Olympics, Mr Brown said relations with the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, were "fine".

He dismissed suggestions that Mr Miliband was preparing a leadership bid with a newspaper article setting out his vision for Labour's future. "We have been working pretty closely together on Georgia and issues related to Afghanistan," he said. "The article he [Miliband] wrote in The Guardian was an article that any member of the Cabinet could have written or I could have written. These are debates that all members of the Cabinet have got to be involved in. There is nothing in the article that is a problem because we have got to enter a debate with the other parties about the different futures for our country."

The Prime Minister dismissed Conservative claims that Labour now has no chance of winning the next general election. He said: "We are going to go on and win."

The Prime Minister is taking his two young sons, John, 4, and Fraser, 2, with him on an official overseas visit for the first time, alongside his wife, Sarah.

He said he would raise concerns over human rights with Chinese authorities.

Mr Brown's trip to the Far East marks his return to the political fray after a three-week break. He confirmed that he was preparing an economic recovery package to help people struggling with fuel and mortgage bills.

He said: "We are getting on with the job. Look, what the people of Britain are concerned about is what is happening to their gas and electricity bills, what is happening to the oil price and the petrol price at the pumps. These are the issues they want us to deal with. You will see us dealing with some of these issues as we come back in September."

The Prime Minister played down speculation about an autumn reshuffle, saying he was "happy" with his frontbench team. He said: "Nobody ever makes advance announcements on things like that but we are concentrating on the economic issues."

He praised Britain's Olympic team, and said his family were looking forward to meeting the athletes. He said: "They are very excited. We have been watching on television – it has been really exciting. I don't think the British public expected that we would do so well and I think they are really delighted that we have."

*The campaigning Labour MP Ann Cryer has announced she will step down from Parliament at the next general election. She was elected MP for Keighley in 1997 and has campaigned on issues including forced marriage, domestic violence and improving the rights of women. She also opposed military intervention in Iraq. Ms Cryer, 68, told Labour Party members of her intention at a meeting in her constituency last night.

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