Gordon Brown vowed to soldier on as Britain’s prime minister on Saturday, admitting he faced an unprecedented period of turbulence as he awaited another electoral bloodbath.
A day after reshuffling his cabinet in a bid to reassert his authority, Brown again insisted he had no intention of standing down as he headed to the battlefields of Normandy in a brief respite from the fight for his political life.
“It’s important to recognise that in these unprecedented times, we are bound to have ups and downs in politics,” Brown told reporters as he promised to “clean up politics” in the wake of a blistering expenses scandal.
“We keep on with the task at hand ... We are not diverted,” he addded.
But despite his defiance, British newspapers said Brown’s government had been fatally wounded and called for a general election, while some said it was time for him to step down after heavy defeat in local English elections.
Results from European polls are due on Sunday which are expected to yield equally disastrous results.
Brown’s cabinet shake-up was brought forward ahead of Saturday’s trip to France to be alongside US President Barack Obama and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
Ten ministers - some embroiled in a row over personal expenses - have resigned in the past week. Political analysts believe Labour has little chance of winning the next general election that must be held by June 2010.
A victory for the main opposition Conservatives, headed by David Cameron, would see the Tories in power for the first time since 1997.
Brown will be hoping his hasty reshuffle does not bring a repeat of Margaret Thatcher’s downfall as prime minister, which came as she was holed up at a European summit in Paris in November 1990.
Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock insisted Brown should remain in power.
“I’m absolutely certain that Gordon is the best man to take us through the recession, which is by far the most dominant issue facing the country and on people’s minds,” he told Sky News television.