Brown calls Blair in to No 10 for secret talks as crisis mounts

"As the expenses scandal continued to rage, Sir Peter Viggers, the Tory MP for Gosport, said he was "ashamed and humiliated" to have claimed for a duck house and island on expenses. He described this as a "ridiculous and grave error of judgement", adding that the ducks had never liked the feature and it was no longer being used. "

Gordon Brown has called Tony Blair into Downing Street as he desperately tries to rescue his leadership from a series of crises. The meeting on Thursday lasted more than an hour, coming amid the continuing outcry over MPs' expenses and warnings from ministers that Labour faces its worst performance in decades at next month's local and European elections.

There was also continued speculation that Mr Brown could face a challenge to his leadership in the wake of the double poll on 4 June.

The timing of the meeting, with Mr Brown's future in doubt, triggered talk in Westminster that the premier was asking Mr Blair for help. Sources said that they did not discuss election timing or strategy, but the conversation did cover domestic politics. The day after the talks, it emerged that Mr Brown will launch a "national plan for Britain" as part of his fightback.

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