It’s 3/1 that he’ll be out this year

It’s 3/1 that he’ll be out this year

papers discgare.JPG

    Will Gordon be saying “move over Darling”?

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling cannot have expected good headlines this morning and reproduced above are a selection of the front pages. There’s no denying it – this is bad.

There’s no respite on the inside pages. The Sun’s leader sums it up simply under the headline “Strike Two”.

This is a story that looks as though it could dog the government for months if not years. The big political question is how much Brown will be dragged into it. It was his move, while chancellor, that merged the Inland Revenue and the Customs and it was his drive for savings that saw many jobs go.

    Squeezing further efficiencies out of the public sector, promised by all parties, might be more difficult after what at least one of the papers is now calling “discgate”.

Another consequence could be a collapse in confidence in the government’s ability to run massive IT systems where data on tens of millions of people is stored. Certainly it changes the terms of the ID card debate.

Will Darling survive? Yesterday lunchtime you could have got 8/1 with William Hill that he would be out by the end of the year. By early evening that had tightened to 3/1 – a price that seems about right.

Meanwhile, in what must already feel like a very long week for ministers, it is only Wednesday and at midday there will be PMQs. I wonder how Cameron will play it? Maybe he would be wise to follow the approach of George Osborne yesterday and take a low-key approach.

The PMQs thread This will be published at 11.45am

Mike Smithson

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