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Britain`s Brown on the brink after minister quits

05 June, 2009

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced a battle to salvage his authority Friday after a minister insisted his continued leadership would spell disa
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LONDON: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced a battle to salvage his authority Friday after a minister insisted his continued leadership would spell disaster for Britain as he quit the government.

In a shock move, James Purnell stepped down as work and pensions secretary, urging Brown to resign as the governing Labour Party braced for dire European Parliament and English local election results.

Purnell left as the polls closed Thursday, with all eyes on whether other ministers would follow suit and turn against Brown.

Brown now faces a difficult Cabinet reshuffle, which could take place later Friday if he decides not to hold off until Monday when the European election results will be known.

Finance minister Alistair Darling and Foreign Secretary David Miliband are keen to stay in their heavyweight posts -- and could cause trouble if he ousts them.

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