Reid says Labour will not be "fractured"

The home secretary John Reid has insisted that the Labour party will not become "fractured" after current leader Tony Blair steps down.

There is much speculation about when Mr Blair will quit as leader, but most commentators expect the prime minister to leave in the week after the Scottish parliament, Welsh Assembly and local elections on May 3rd.

Mr Reid has yet to rule himself out of the subsequent leadership race and reacted cryptically to questions related to the clear frontrunner in the leadership race, the chancellor Gordon Brown.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Reid said: "The election that matters to me is the election which places before the British people the choice between Conservatives and Labour. That is the important election.

"What I am saying is that beyond that election, I believe that the purpose and the practice of unity which will lead us into it will extend beyond it, and it will be a substantial one - a coming together - on the basis of a common view and a common direction for the future."

In relation to the views of the Labour leadership on issues that may define the party after the exit of Mr Blair, Mr Reid said the party would stand together.

"We have stood together over the past ten years. We took the accolades together, we now must take responsibility together if we are declining in the polls and will forge a future together in the spirit of unity and on the basis of substantial policy."

Only two other Labour MPs, Michael Meacher and John McDonnell, have so far confirmed that they are running for the leadership. Out of these two, only one is expected to challenge Mr Brown after gaining the necessary votes from the party.

According to the Sunday Times, now David Miliband has ruled himself out Tony Blair will endorse Gordon Brown for the leadership. All the while Mr Miliband was still in the race, the prime minister would have had a dilemma, according to the paper.

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