Straw: Brown knew he wasn’t up to the job

By Charles Maggs

Gordon Brown "lacked the fundamental qualities" to be a good prime minister, former foreign secretary Jack Straw has said.

The Blairite Blackburn MP said there were a number of Cabinet ministers considering taking on Brown in a leadership challenge.

"Of course I thought about whether I should stand at various moments. So did others. David Miliband, Alan Johnson, I talked to them. I talked to Harriet Harman," he told BBC Radio 3's Night Waves show.

"If you say we were ready to wound but afraid to strike, that's true. We backed off because although the situation was desperate we were never certain we wouldn't make it worse."

His comments describe a culture of distrust at the heart of New Labour's dying days.

Straw acknowledged that Brown brought some talented allies with him to No 10 but added: "He also always employed some people who were skilled in the dark arts and that undermined trust in him and his trust in others."

The comments come a day after he published his memoirs, Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor.

Straw's revelations continue a bad week for the former prime minister. Brown had to cancel a press conference at the UN after just one journalist turned up.

He was due to address reporters in his new role as educational ambassador for the UN but despite two reminders being read out over the building's loudspeakers the event was cancelled 20 minutes later, the Telegraph reported.

It was a stark contrast to the media scrum that followed David Cameron after his address to the UN's general assembly in which he criticised the international community's response to the violence in Syria yesterday.