Miliband leads race for Britain`s Labour leadership
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Last Updated: Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 20:31
London: Former foreign secretary David Miliband is the clear favourite to succeed Gordon Brown as leader of Britain's Labour party, although whoever wins is facing years in opposition.

Unofficial campaigning began within hours of Brown's announcement late yesterday that he was stepping down both as prime minister and as Labour leader after the party came second to the Conservatives in last week's election.

Miliband's main competitor in the race would likely be ex-schools secretary Ed Balls but any number of candidates could join the race -- including Miliband's younger brother, Ed -- as different party factions vye for power.

"My resignation as leader of the Labour party will take effect immediately," Brown said, naming deputy leader Harriet Harman as caretaker, although she has ruled herself out of the leadership race.

His resignation marked the end of 13 years of Labour government and could spell years of opposition for the party, with the next election due in 2015.

Veteran Labour minister Alan Johnson began the race today by throwing his weight behind Miliband, already the bookmakers' favourite to take over, saying he was a "remarkable politician".

Miliband, 44, worked closely with former prime minister Tony Blair, both as head of policy before Labour was elected to government and for four years after they took office.

He was elected to parliament in 2001 and rose swiftly, becoming environment secretary in 2006 and then foreign secretary in June 2007.

Despite some hiccups -- he sparked outrage during a trip to India in January 2009 by linking the unresolved Kashmir dispute to the Mumbai attacks -- he has won respect and was mooted as a candidate for EU foreign affairs chief.


First Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 20:31

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