Brown and Reid press security credentials

Gordon Brown and John Reid have both used today’s Sunday newspapers to outline their security credentials, prompting further speculation over the future of the Labour leadership.

Mr Brown, who has long been tipped as Tony Blair’s successor, stresses in an interview with the Sunday Times that protecting the nation must be a premier’s “first priority”.

Dismissing calls made by Conservative leader David Cameron for a full-time cabinet minister for terrorism, the chancellor said it was the prime minister who “must take the lead” in the fight against terrorism.

In an interview which stretches beyond the realms of his usual Treasury portfolio, Mr Brown added that he “completely” agreed with yesterday’s call by Britain’s top policeman for tougher anti-terror laws.

During a speech in Berlin yesterday, Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair called for an extension of the current 28-day detention limit for terror suspects and the use of phone-tap evidence in court.

Sir Ian’s call followed a warning from MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller that the intelligence services were aware of 30 terror plots against the UK.

Responding to Sir Ian’s comments, Mr Brown told the Sunday Times: “I completely agree with him.”

He added: “Given the scale of the threat we face, we must give the security service and the police not just the resources they need, but the powers they need, to gather securely the evidence and use that evidence to gain convictions.”

Mr Brown said a “national security strategy” was needed to help combat terrorism but dismissed calls from Conservatives for the creation of a cabinet-level terrorism minister.

“Ultimately, because the fight against terrorism must be fought both at home and abroad, it is the prime minister who must take the lead, as Tony Blair has done. If you are prime minister, you cannot devolve responsibility for protecting the nation. It must always be your first priority,” the chancellor said.

Writing in the same newspaper, Mr Cameron argued: “Action against terrorism deserves a dedicated seat at the top table.”

Meanwhile, in the Sunday Telegraph, home secretary John Reid warned of a “dividing line” between himself and the Conservative leader.

Ahead of next week’s Queens Speech, which is expected to see a raft of law and order measures, he wrote: “David Cameron’s ‘All You Need Is Love’ approach is not only wrong. It can be downright dangerous.”

“At worst, it perpetuates the myth that for every offence there is an excuse, and for every offender there is an alibi. That is a very dangerous illusion for any politician to spread.”