The UK Prime Minister may be all smiles in public but behind the scenes things are going from bad to worse for Gordon Brown.
Facing a rout in European and local elections later this week, Brown is expected to reshuffle key ministerial posts shortly afterwards, in an attempt to reassert his authority before a general election which he must call in the next year. Britain’s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith looks to be the latest casualty. She will reportedly stand down from her cabinet post in the upcoming reshuffle. Officials have refused to comment on speculation that Finance Minister Alistair Darling may also be moved after he was implicated in the MPs expenses scandal: “The important thing that people expect us to do is to get on with business, is to make sure we support people, support this country, to get through what is one of the deepest downturns we have seen in generations and that’s what we are totally focussed on,” Darling told reporters. There is also widespread speculation that Communities Secretary Hazel Blears will be on her bike after the reshuffle as a result of controversy over her expenses claims. Latest research puts Labour support at just 18 percent, level pegging with Britain’s third party, the Liberal Democrats. Some say a poor showing in this week’s elections could prompt a fresh effort to topple Brown.