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Britain's PM reshuffles government to calm crisis

BRITISH Prime Minister Gordon Brown clung fiercely to his job yesterday, defying calls from some within his beleaguered Labour party to resign.

Brown told reporters he never even considered resigning, instead announcing a Cabinet reshuffle he hopes will help restore his fortunes. Brown has been badly stung by a scandal over British lawmakers' expenses, a string of top-level resignations and catastrophic results expected in local elections.

"I have the determination to take this country through the most difficult of economic times, and this is what I am doing," he said. "I will get on with the job and I will finish the work."

Brown, who some legislators view as the key obstacle to the party's hopes of avoiding defeat in the next national election, promoted key allies to his inner circle in a bid to block efforts to oust him from his post.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, a 39-year-old fast-rising star in Brown's government, dramatically quit late on Thursday and urged Brown to step aside. "I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less likely," he told Brown in a resignation letter.

Defense Secretary John Hutton, one of the Cabinet's best performers, announced yesterday he was quitting his post - the sixth surprise resignation in four days. But he offered Brown his support - mitigating the impact of his departure.

In a dig at those who jumped ship, Brown said yesterday he was filling his Cabinet with people "who will not walk away from their responsibilities when the going gets tough."

But even as Brown announced his new lineup, news broke of another resignation: Caroline Flint, his Europe minister, is leaving her post. Brown was at pains to emphasize that he was still in control - while defending himself against charges that he was ignoring the will of his party.

"I'm not arrogant, and I'm never complacent," Brown said.


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