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Brown aid not in the running; POLITICS.

One of Gordon Brown's closest allies yesterday ruled himself out of the race to become Labour's next deputy leader.

Economic Secretary Ed Balls said there was "no possibility" of his standing.

"I'm not going to be declaring for that contest," he said. "I don't think there's any possibility of that."

The news will be a boost to Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, who has openly begun his bid to take over when John Prescott steps down.

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has been offering 5/1 on Mr Balls - the Chancellor's chief adviser at the Treasury before becoming an MP - being the next deputy.

Mr Balls dodged questions on whether Mr Brown's Prime Ministerial ambitions had been damaged by his perceived involvement in the recent rebellion against Tony Blair.

He insisted the party was now hungry for "unity".

"I certainly think the last two weeks have failed the test of stableness or orderliness.

"It's been a rocky few weeks for the Government but I think we want to put that behind us now. There's a real desire for unity in the Labour Party."

Asked whether he could see Education Secretary Alan Johnson, regarded as the Chancellor's closest rival for the leadership, running the country, Mr Balls replied: "Of course I could."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 14, 2006
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