U.K. Labour’s Johnson Rules Out Any Bid to Oust Miliband

Former U.K. Home Secretary Alan Johnson ruled out any bid to oust Ed Miliband as leader of the opposition Labour Party, putting an end to speculation about his intentions six months before the general election.

U.K. media in recent days reported speculation over a plot to oust Miliband amid slumping approval ratings for the opposition leader and as Labour’s opinion-poll lead over Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives all but disappeared. Johnson, who stepped down from front-line politics in 2011, was named as a possible successor.

“I have never stood for the leadership of my party, and for the avoidance of doubt, regardless of the circumstances, I never will,” Johnson wrote in an article for the Guardian newspaper. “I believe that Miliband is the only party leader who can promise real and lasting change, rather than a return to business as usual.”

Asked by a reporter during the Confederation of British Industry conference in London yesterday whether he accepted that there’s a crisis of confidence on his leadership, Miliband gave a single-word reply: “No.”

Only about a third of the people who endorsed Labour at the 2010 election said they regard Miliband as up to running the country, compared with about half two months ago, according to a poll by YouGov Plc for this past weekend’s Sunday Times. A separate Opinium survey in the Observer newspaper showed only 49 percent of Labour supporters approve of his leadership.

Johnson was briefly Treasury spokesman after Miliband took over as Labour leader in September 2010. He quit, citing personal reasons in January 2011.

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