British FM calls for party unity ahead of Labour conference

Other News Materials 20 September 2008 14:16 (UTC +04:00)

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called for the Labour party to unite behind Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Labour leader ahead of the crucial party conference on Saturday, reported dpa.

"It is time for the party to come together. I've made it clear I don't think it's the time for a leadership election," he told the Daily Star in an interview published Saturday.

The 43-year-old who is regarded as the frontrunner in a potential challenge to Brown's leadership said the conference was "a five-day opportunity for the party to put a strong, determined, clear, unified face before the public."

His cabinet colleague Health Secretary Alan Johnson - also regarded as a possible successor to Brown - also spoke out against ousting the party leader.

Brown was the right man to lead the party and the government at the current time of global economic turmoil because of his economic expertise, he told The Times newspaper.

"I have never been a great Brown cheerleader but when I see Gordon at the centre of these events, dealing with this maelstrom, I think he is the best person at the moment," he was quoted as saying.

Cabinet member Ed Miliband, brother to the foreign secretary, was also planning to call on the party for unity. The delegates had the responsibility to focus on the country's problems instead of internal quabbles, he said.

The Labour party is facing the most serious crisis under Brown, with polls showing Labour 20 points behind the opposition Conservatives, with 24 per cent.

The party conference is due to culminate Tuesday with the speech by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that is seen as a make-or-break event in his leadership.