Sacked British MP stays on as India lobbyist

September 15th, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownLondon, Sep 15 (IANS) Amid a growing party rebellion, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Monday sacked a former minister and current chairman of an influential parliamentarians’ group that lobbies for India.But Barry Gardiner, whose Brent North parliamentary constituency includes a large number of people of Indian origin, said Monday’s development will not affect his position as chairman of the high-profile Labour Friends of India.

“I don’t see my role in the Labour Friends of India will come into play at all. These two are very different things,” Gardiner told IANS on the telephone from New York.

The MP, who helped found the Labour Friends of India, denied he was sacked, insisting it was he who resigned Saturday as the prime minister’s special representative on forestry after publicly calling for a Labour leadership election.

The prime minister’s office Monday morning announced that Gardiner had been removed from his forestry post - a largely honorary role - “by mutual consent” over the weekend.

Gardiner is the third Labour MP to lose his job after challenging Brown and is among a dozen MPs who have rebelled publicly ahead of a key party conference in Manchester this week.

Brown last week sacked Siobhan McDonagh, a government whip, and Joan Ryan, his envoy on Cyprus after what was described by some British political commentators as a “coordinated coup attempt” against him.

As the annual party conference season kicks off in Britain, Labour trails 19 points behind the opposition Conservative Party after a YouGov poll for The Sunday Times put the opposition party up one, on 46 percent, and Labour up two, on 27 percent.

John Hutton, Britain’s senior minister for business, refused to criticise the rebel MPs, saying: “I think my colleagues are right to say that the government need to do better. For heaven’s sake, we are 20 percentage points behind in the opinion polls.”

The Times newspaper said: “The Prime Minister is desperate to stop the Labour conference being dominated by discussion of his leadership, but his attempt to focus attention on what he is doing to help those affected by the credit crisis and turn Labour’s fire on the Conservatives appears to have been ruined.”

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