Sunday papers round-up
So is it going to be June? – Brown may rule out early 09 election
The Sunday Times reports Charlie Whelan, formerly Brown’s press secretary and now political officer with Unite, as saying that June 2009 would be an “ideal opportunity” to hold an election. The paper says that his comments “echo what many of Brownâ€™s advisers have been recently saying in private… while most senior Labour figures believe 2010 is still the most likely year for an election, they also think it is important to keep open the option of summer 2009”.
According to Whelan, â€œwe have the Euro elections in June and this could be an ideal opportunity for the prime minister to go to the country. In May Gordon Brown will be hosting the world economic summit in Britain, and with Obama in town there is bound to be wall-to-wall media coverage. David Cameron will be lucky to get a look-in.” The Sunday Times also says that “Downing Street sources said the prime minister had ruled out a February poll but a summer election remained a possibility“.
The “no early election” theme is also carried in the Mail on Sunday which reports that Brown is going to rule out calling a spring election, and will make an announcement before the New Year.
Elsewhere in the Sunday Times, it’s reported that ministers are considering a loan of several hundred million pounds to Jaguar Land Rover, as well as an insolvency expert predicting that up to 15 national retail chains will go bust before the middle of next month.
The Sunday Telegraph reports that ministers are coming under growing pressure from Labour MPs to disestablish the Church of England, while it emerged yesterday that the Speaker has blocked a official Commons inquiry into his handling of Greengate. The paper says that “Tory MPs who wrote to the Speaker demanding the move are furious at his refusal and say it will only intensify demands for him to resign”. Meanwhile Matthew D’Ancona writes that Brown and Mandelson are now united against their enemies on the Left.
The Observer however reports Mandelson as ruling out an early government rescue of Jaguar, while MPs opposed to the Heathrow expansion are planning a huge cross-party revolt in the new year. Andrew Rawnsley writes that Gordon Brown, having saved himself, must now save his party.
The Independent runs a piece on Mandelson, calling him a born survivor back in power, but John Rentoul warns that his ‘new industrial activism’ could lead Labour down the “well-worn path to electoral ruin”. Finally, Alan Watkins adds his voice to those calling for a return of Clarke:
“He, at any rate, would provide the ballast of reassurance, without the need to make a succession of dreary speeches… He would fill the position on the opposition side that is occupied by Lord Mandelson in the Government. Indeed, Mr Clarke could sit snugly into the same slot, as shadow minister for business rather than as shadow chancellor, which would understandably annoy Mr George Osborne. When I mentioned this notion to Mr Clarke last week, he said that he too had heard the rumour, but refused to enlarge on matters to any further extent, as he was on his way to lunch.”