I'm paying heavy price for my bigot gaffe, says Brown
Published 01/05/2010 | 05:00
Gordon Brown admitted in an interview to be published today that he has "paid a very heavy price" for his outburst against an elderly widow, whom he called "bigoted".
In his first interview since Wednesday's fateful encounter with Gillian Duffy, the British prime minister said he has been personally damaged by the incident.
And following the third of the televised leaders' debates, in which Mr Brown was widely thought to have fared worst, he acknowledges that David Cameron could now be heading for Downing Street, although he insists he will continue to fight until "the last second" of the campaign.
Mr Brown is now facing the prospect of leading his party to its worst election result since 1983. Labour has been in third place in the majority of opinion polls since the first leaders' debate on April 15.
In a further blow to Mr Brown, last night the traditionally Labour-supporting 'Guardian' endorsed the Liberal Democrats. It said readers should only vote tactically for Labour where the Lib Dems could not win.
In the interview with the 'Telegraph', the prime minister expresses remorse for his attack on Mrs Duffy, a 65-year-old Labour supporter who had confronted him over the national debt and immigration.
After leaving Mrs Duffy, Mr Brown was overheard condemning her as "bigoted" to an aide after he forgot he was still wearing a microphone. He was then forced to make an apology.
Meanwhile, in a BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman broadcast last night, Mr Brown claimed he had misunderstood Mrs Duffy, claiming he thought she had said she wanted all foreign students removed from British universities.
The gaffe is set to become one of the decisive moments of the election campaign. Labour strategists fear the episode has already damaged the party's standing with core voters and could demoralise the party's activists.
Mr Brown will be braced for further embarrassment tomorrow, when a Sunday newspaper is expected to show Mrs Duffy's side of the story for the first time after securing her co-operation in a deal reportedly worth tens of thousands of pounds. (© Daily Telegraph, London)