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Spin in overdrive after surprise move by Brown

The word on the street was that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were on the verge of a deal.

It was late afternoon, and before news of a statement that would shake the foundations of that vague assumption.

News that a "significant" statement by Gordon Brown was imminent filtered out to political correspondents, though the moment in which the British Prime Minister announced his departure took many by surprise.

Labour MPs, who had called on him to step down, applauded and called the move courageous.

Liberal Democrats praised him too, and noted that it made their own hand a bit stronger.

Conservative MPs warned against an alliance that would restore the Labour Party to government. The representatives of the fourth estate prepared for a long night.

One Labour backbencher hailed a "wise and brave" decision that would allow the party to move forward.

Another felt that it was "recognition that Labour lost the election, which I think has not been made clear until this point". Though they added: "I don't know why it took him until today to say it."


As rolling news channels covered the fall-out, a row erupted on live television between former Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell and Adam Boulton, the political editor of Sky News.

Mr Campbell accused Mr Boulton of "spending the last few years saying Gordon Brown is dead meat".

When Mr Boulton denied this and added that the Conservatives had gained more votes and seats in the election, Mr Campbell said: "Yes, I know, you're obviously upset that David Cameron is not Prime Minister."

Mr Boulton was furious. "You keep casting aspersions. Don't keep telling me what I think. I'm fed up with you telling me what I think, I don't think that."

Afterwards, Sky News said that Mr Boulton had "defended his integrity".

On Twitter Mr Campbell was still enjoying the furore. "Really worried about Adam Boulton," he wrote.

"Wonder if he might need some of my pills."