Top Labour figures in Sussex tonight refused to sign up to any plot to unseat Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
As rumours began to sweep Westminster of rebel Labour MPs gathering signatures from backbenchers for a letter to Mr Brown calling on him to step down, county MPs and other party figures said they would not be calling for a change of leadership.
Reports said MPs were being given an email address to which they could send their endorsement of the “Gordon must go” call, which could be handed to the PM on Monday after the results of tomorrow’s council and European polls are declared.
It follows the resignations of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, both of whom have faced criticism over their expense claims.
However, Labour politicians in Sussex continued to express public loyalty to Mr Brown, with some suggesting an improvement in the economy could still help Labour to a fourth general election victory.
Brighton Kemptown MP Des Turner told The Argus: “Gordon has enormous qualities but he is less good at instant communication. He should stay on until the next election and I still think it’s possible we can win it. The economy is central to it. Gordon’s response to the crisis has been a bold one and if his actions start to be seen to be producing results I am still naive enough in politics to believe the electorate will give him credit for that.”
Crawley MP Laura Moffatt said: “These are really difficult times and he’s the best person for the job. The last thing we should do is blame it all on Gordon. That is the worst kind of politics when things are difficult. But the next 48 hours are going to be crucial for us all.”
Hastings and Rye MP Michael Foster said: “I still believe Brown to be the right man. The real crisis is the international economic crisis and we are doing rather better under Brown’s leadership than most other nations. He may not be flashy but he is the man who can see us through this.”
Brighton Pavilion MP David Lepper said: “In terms of seeing us through this economic crisis Gordon Brown is acknowledged by other leaders throughout the world and should be in charge of things in this country.”
Former Brighton and Hove Council leader Simon Burgess, who plans to contest Brighton Kemptown when Dr Turner retires at the next election, said: “I am not calling for him to go. The public need a lot of persuading on both the expenses issue and the economy. We have got a big job to do regardless of who the leader is.”