Everything changes as Brown makes way for a progressive alliance

If it happens, you read it here first.

So, just when you thought events couldn't get much more dramatic at Westminster, Gordon Brown has just trumped it all by announcing he will be standing aside as Labour leader before the party conference in the autumn, after presiding over talks with Nick Clegg to secure a progressive alliance for what he called a "progressive majority" in Britain.

There was much shock on the airwaves, on Twitter and elsewhere in the blogosphere, but it was pretty clear by Saturday that a serious counter-offer from Labour was being planned. As I wrote then:

By the end of the weekend, the possibilities of a "progressive alliance" may be discussed at last. It appears that Labour is, indeed, preparing to make Clegg an offer that would surely be agonisingly hard to refuse, including a referendum on real proportional representation, a sizeable handful of cabinet posts and even the conceivability of a timetable for Gordon Brown's departure from No 10.

Well, it took a little longer than the weekend for the plan to go public but, by making it so, Brown the master strategist has blown the Tory-Liberal talks out of the water and created havoc in the Conservative parliamentary meeting beginning in about half an hour.

There should be a strong caveat here: it is, of course, very possible that the Lib Dems and Tories will still agree a deal. Indeed, it may even be more likely, now that Tory minds will have been focused by Brown's announcement.

If, however, against all odds, David Cameron does not manage to form a government and there is indeed a Labour-Liberal coalition, I hope you will forgive this not-to-be-repeated lapse into self-congratulation when I say, having endured so much abuse in this space over the months, that you read it here, and only here first.