In this week's NS, Kevin Maguire reports what many in Westminster have long suspected: that Gordon Brown will stand down as an MP at next year's general election.
He writes: "Gordon Brown, whispered one of his friends, is to step down as an MP at the 2015 general election. The announcement, when it comes, will be as unexpected as the Sun backing the Tories, but Brown’s departure will still excite headlines. The former PM will have clocked up 32 years in parliament, including three as prime minister and five since he left Downing Street. Thatcher and Major both quit as MPs at the next general election. Heath stayed for the longest sulk in history. I’ve come to the conclusion that Blair made the right call by disappearing immediately. Ex-premiers get in the way. Accused of back-seat driving if they utter a single word out of place in the Commons, they’re also called lazy if they avoid making speeches."
But Brown's spokesman has just issued a response stating that the former PM has "no plans" to announce his departure from parliament. Here it is in full:
So many people have tried to write this story on so many occasions with no facts.
Mr Brown has just announced he is playing an active role in the referendum for United with Labour. He is giving a major speech next Tuesday and will be delivering a series of lectures on Scotland's future, the dates of which will be announced shortly.
He is, and will remain, Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and he has no plans to make any announcement to the contrary.
That, as you'll note, falls some way short of a categorical denial. Until Brown formally commits to standing in 2015, speculation over his intentions will continue.
But with the Scottish independence race narrowing, it's good news that Brown is planning to step up his involvement in the campaign (including the publication in June of a book on Scotland and the Union). Here's my recent post on why the former PM remains a threat to the nationalists.