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Earthquakes leave Brown on the edge of a precipice

'I'm absolutely sure that Britain can be the great global success story of this century," said Gordon Brown when he finally ousted Tony Blair and got into Number 10 Downing Street just two years ago this week.

The triumphalism sounded pretty hollow at the time but even Brown's strongest critics in the Commons never imagined just how quickly his pledge to "let the work of change begin" would be undermined by what he now describes, ruefully, as "two earthquakes -- one economic, unparalleled since the war -- one political, the biggest parliamentary scandal for two centuries".

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