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Prime minister's aide warns party rebels

A TOP deputy to Britain's troubled Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday warned Members of Parliament seeking his ouster to end their rebellion - or risk making the situation of the governing Labour Party more tenuous.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr talk show, urged party dissidents to think about the consequences of an ugly leadership battle. The tussle comes as voters are punishing Labour MPs for abusing their expense claims in a scandal that has shaken the government.

"Stop taking shots at the prime minister because you are simply going to make the position of the party and the government even worse," Mandelson said.

Brown, who took over from former Prime Minister Tony Blair after waiting more than a decade for the top spot, has been battling desperately to keep his job amid a rebellion in the ranks. But Mandelson said dumping Brown would trigger an election before the government could complete economic reforms.

"If we were to have a third leader in a single Parliament it would mean irresistible pressure to hold a general election before we were able to carry out the changes in the economy."

Brown faced a new crisis yesterday, with predictions that results of last week's European election would be disastrous for Labour. Party leaders fear the results could be even worse than local elections that saw the party lose hundreds of seats.

At least one influential Labour lawmaker has rallied to Brown's support. John Cruddas wrote in the Sunday Mirror that simply dumping Brown is "madness" that won't solve Labour's troubles.


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