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
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
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.