Miliband: ‘I am not a candidate’

The environment secretary David Miliband has said he will not challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership, insisting “I am not a candidate”.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Miliband claimed the many calls for him to stand as a credible alternative to Mr Brown had not persuaded him to run for Number Ten.

“I’ve not wavered in my view over the last three years and I’m not wavering now,” he said.

Reiterating his praise for the chancellor, Mr Miliband continued: “I’ve meant what I said, I am not a candidate, we’ve got an excellent prime minister in waiting in Gordon Brown, and I’m getting on with my job as environment secretary which I think is one of the most pressing issues that we face.”

However, pundits have been quick to point out that Mr Miliband has not said he would reject a nomination.

It is possible that Mr Miliband’s supporters will write in their support for the environment minister’s candidature via the Labour party website, which is set to publish regular updates of the leadership race after Tony Blair officially announces his resignation.

Such a strategy would allow Labour party members to show their support for Mr Miliband, without forcing him to publicly challenge the chancellor, long held to be the natural successor to Mr Blair.

Mr Miliband would have until 12pm on the day following the close of nominations to accept the candidacy, assuming he received the necessary support from 45 MPs.

John Reid, Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn have all praised the environment secretary, who is seen as a natural foil to a Cameron-led Conservative party. However, foreign secretary Margaret Beckett has warned Mr Miliband he would be “daft” to run as leader.

Speaking during his monthly press conference, the prime minister refused to be drawn into speculation over his likely successor.

Asked if he had any advice for Mr Miliband, he said: “I don’t give advice to anyone in that situation, so … I’ve said that I’ll say nothing about this, and I mean it.

Mr Blair added: “If I even raise an eyebrow out of place it is over-interpreted. So, I’ve got nothing to say on that.”