01 June 2009

Sacking Darling could backfire on Brown


If Brown needs any further ammunition to move or sack Darling it arrives in spades this morning courtesy of The Telegraph:

In July 2007, Mr Darling submitted a £1,004 claim for a service charge on his south London flat 10 days after he became Chancellor. It covered the six-month period to the end of December 2007.

At the time, Mr Darling moved into Downing Street and began to claim second home allowances for his grace-and-favour apartments, meaning that costs relating to two of the Chancellor's homes were being met by the taxpayer. That would appear to contravene parliamentary rules that allow MPs to claim on only one property at a time. He was also receiving rent for his flat from at least September 2007.

It has already been disclosed that Mr Darling is a "serial flipper" who has designated four properties as his second home in four years. He has also employed an accountant at taxpayers' expense to complete his self-assessment forms.

Darling has said the report is wrong and no claims were made for his grace-and-favour flat.  Who is right and wrong remains to be seen.

It could premature to write off Darling .  He will not go without a fight, for if he is sacked or moved his credibility as chancellor will be in ruins.  Moreover, Brown will wish to be certain that if he sacks Darling or any other Cabinet minister such as Hazel Blears, it won’t create another ‘Geoffrey Howe moment’.

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