UK Brown insists on controversial plans

Political analysts say Brown will be fighting for his political life over the next two months and may struggle to survive as party leader into the summer parliamentary recess.

UK Brown insists on controversial plans
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday he would stick to his plans to detain "suspects" for longer without being charged despite the prospect of a humiliating defeat in parliament.

With a rebellion rumbling in the ranks of Labour and threatening Brown's faltering leadership, the prime minister claimed a plan to allow detention of suspects for up to 42 days without charge was the "right thing" to do "to protect the security of all and the liberties of each".

Brown's poll ratings have fallen in recent months, wiping away the political "honeymoon" he enjoyed after taking over from Tony Blair almost a year ago.

As many as 50 Labour MPs are thought to be ready to vote against Brown's 42-day detention plan when it comes to the vote next week.

The plans, which would extend the 28-day pre-charge detention limit, were attacked by the government's former top lawyer, ex-attorney-general Lord Goldsmith, who described them as a "very serious incursion on our fundamental freedoms".

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was scheduled to meet MPs later on Monday to try to persuade them to fall into line behind Brown.

Fighting for political life

Writing in The Times, Brown said he would not give ground.

"Some have argued that I should drop or significantly water down the 42-day limit," he wrote. "But having considered carefully all the evidence ... I believe that ... allowing up to 42 days' pre-charge detention in these exceptional terrorist cases is the right way to protect national security."

Political analysts say Brown will be fighting for his political life over the next two months and may struggle to survive as party leader into the summer parliamentary recess.

Most commentators recognise that it is most likely to be the economy -- an area where Brown won a good reputation for competence during his 10 years as chancellor under Blair -- which is crucial to Brown's future.

The economy grew at its slowest pace in three years in the first quarter of 2008 and inflation is forecast to rise near to 4 percent, limiting the Bank of England's scope for interest rate cuts.

News on Monday that Britain's largest buy-to-let mortgage lender has run into financial difficulties in a global credit squeeze which has already contributed to the collapse of one major bank was likely to darken the scene further.

And Brown's opinion poll ratings have shadowed the economic decline. A YouGov poll in last Friday's Telegraph put Labour 14 points behind in popularity, with 23 percent support versus 47 percent for the Conservatives.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Haziran 2008, 16:13
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