LONDON – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, battling to avert the collapse of his government, said on Saturday he would stick to his policies, as his Labor Party faced a European election drubbing.
A day after reshuffling his cabinet to try to secure the loyalty of ministers after several walked out of his government, Brown said: I think it is important to recognize that in these unprecedented times you are bound to have up and downs in politics.
You are bound to have difficulties because the public are waiting to see the results, but you have got to stick with the policies and make sure that they come through, he told reporters after attending a cathedral service in France to mark the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
British voters, angry over banking and economic crises and lavish expenses claims by members of parliament, turned their backs on Labor in local elections Thursday. The party lost control of all the English county councils it was defending.
The government faces a further drubbing when European election results are released Sunday.
Media reports said Brown could face further rebellion among his Labor Party lawmakers who may be tempted to sign a letter circulating in parliament calling on him to resign. Rebels fear they will lose the parliamentary election Brown must call within a year unless he stands aside.
The main opposition Conservative Party, with a commanding lead in opinion polls, has called for an early election, which could see it return to power for the first time since 1997.
Some Labor members of parliament came out in support of Brown Saturday, saying the former finance minister was the man to lead the country out of recession.
We will be judged on how well we steer the country through what is one of the world's biggest economic shocks since the Second World War, the new minister for culture, media and sport, Ben Bradshaw, told Sky News.
I do not think there is any better politician in this country to do that than Gordon Brown.
A change of Labor leader would raise the prospect of a snap election. Brown has not faced the electorate since he took over as prime minister from Tony Blair two years ago.
Brown, in his second reshuffle in eight months, changed the heads of 10 ministries, but retained his finance minister, foreign minister and the head of the business ministry.
It included replacing six senior ministers who had resigned.
A day of high political drama took its toll on some markets, with the uncertainty sending sterling to a two-week low against the euro, before it recovered some ground.
The possibility of Brown's government collapsing has caused rumor and uncertainty in currency markets all week.
But there was some relief for investors that finance minister Alistair Darling remained in his job. The bond market was largely unaffected and the main London stock index rose 1.2 percent.
Markets and voters are looking for strong government and clarity on when the next parliamentary election will be held. If Brown manages to survive the current crisis, it looks likely he will wait for as long as possible before calling the next election.