Brown’s fateful ambition for Britain

Gordon Brown is trying to raise his profile in England to forestall objections to his becoming Prime Minister, according to the Sunday Times.

The chancellor has told friends he wants to counter any perception south of the border that he is a “purely Scottish” politician in order to improve his chances of becoming the next prime minister.

Brown has long been concerned that his nationality could count against him inside the Labour party. Charles Clarke is among a number of senior party figures said to believe that voters would prefer to vote for an English prime minister.

It’s worth recalling that Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell allegedly told Boris Johnson last year that Brown could not become Prime Minister because of the West Lothian question.

Powell called it a Shakespearean tragedy, which it is in a very deep sense, because Brown’s fate is entwined with that of the British state.

Brown is a passionate advocate for the Union between England and Scotland, which is a necessary basis for his political ambitions.

Yet his ambitions may yet undermine that union. If he succeeds in becoming Prime Minister, it can only increase tensions around the West Lothian question in England. If he fails, it will send a message to Scotland that Westminster is no longer the right vehicle for their aspirations.



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