British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday he would stay on as leader of the Labour Party even if it fails to win a majority at an election expected in May.

The opposition Conservatives, seeking to end 13 years of Labour government, are ahead in opinion polls by a slim margin, with some surveys suggesting a hung parliament, in which neither main party wins a parliamentary majority.

Asked whether he owed it to Labour to quit as leader if he failed to get a decent majority in the election, Brown told BBC Radio 4: I owe it to people to continue and complete the work we have started of taking this country out of the most difficult global financial recession.

I'll keep going, he added. I'll keep going because I want a majority. I'll keep going.

The last time Britain's ruling party was defeated in an election was when the Conservatives lost to Labour in 1997. Then, the outgoing prime minister, John Major, stepped down as the leader of his party.

Brown, who was finance minister for 10 years before taking over from Tony Blair as prime minister in 2007, has had a turbulent time as Labour leader. He has survived two attempts to depose him by ministers or former ministers.

Some opinion polls have suggested Brown is less popular than the party itself. His main opponent, Conservative leader David Cameron, is in the reverse position: polls show he is personally more popular than his party.

The prime minister's spokesman said Brown's priority was on winning the election and that it would be wrong to read too much into comments about hypothetical issues.

Clearly in the event of a hung parliament, we don't know exactly what the configuration would be and therefore that in itself is also hypothetical, the spokesman said.

Some commentators have drawn parallels between Brown's comments and a 1987 BBC interview with Margaret Thatcher, who was the Conservative prime minister at the time, when she said she planned to go on and on and on.

Thatcher, who had taken office in 1979, served for a further three years after the interview before she was ousted by party rebels.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Keith Weir, editing by Estelle Shirbon and Angus MacSwan)