Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 11:57 UK

Brown didn't trust me, says Flint

Caroline Flint: "My loyalty was questioned" - Courtesy of GMTV

Caroline Flint says she resigned from her ministerial job because Gordon Brown questioned her loyalty.

It was thought she quit because she was not offered a cabinet job in Friday's reshuffle which came after resignations and amid reports of an attempted coup.

But Ms Flint told GMTV she resigned because "I didn't feel Gordon Brown had full confidence in my loyalty".

But Downing Street said Mr Brown "did not recognise her assertion that the prime minister questioned her loyalty".

Ms Flint quit last week accusing Mr Brown of treating women as "window dressing" - a day after publicly backing the PM.

She said she had not intended to resign, but felt she was left with little choice after the conversation with Mr Brown.

"I don't want to go into the detail, but what I can say is individuals' names were mentioned to me who seemed to be part of a plot against the prime minister and my loyalty was questioned," she said.

"And I sort of felt at that point that to continue, without confidence, was a difficult thing to do."

'Negative briefings'

The conversation came on Friday during the reshuffle as Mr Brown battled to keep his job after a disastrous performance in the English local elections.

The week had also seen the resignations of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and some other ministers before Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell walked out on Thursday evening with an open call for Mr Brown to quit.

A group of women ministers who have been meeting regularly for some time now, occasionally to have a meal and a drink together, is not about plotting
Caroline Flint

This was widely seen as part of coordinated attempt to challenge Mr Brown's position as Labour leader, but Ms Flint said she was not part of any plotting.

She said "negative briefings" from Downing Street had wrongly attempted to suggest she was part of a group of senior Labour women ministers wanting to unseat Mr Brown.

Ms Flint said she welcomed the fact Mr Brown, whose position appears to be secure for now, had told Labour MPs in their mass meeting on Monday that he recognised the need to change the way the government was run to operate as more of a team.

She also defended attacks on her "window dressing" criticism, given her recent glossy fashion photo-shoot.

Ms Flint told GMTV that the piece in question was for a "lifestyle fashion supplement" and "not modelling lingerie" and was designed to showcase affordable fashion in the credit crunch.

'Face time'

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour, Ms Flint criticised Mr Brown's style of government, saying she had not had a single conversation with the prime minister about European policy in her year as Europe minister, which is not a full cabinet post.

"I know I am not on my own amongst ministers, particularly some of the women ministers, about having this halfway house of, on one level, being seen as being in cabinet, but not really being there.

"And for me it's really important that the prime minister does have an inclusive government that he widens the base of those people he seeks advice from and I think women have got something to offer there."

She said the only people who got "face time" with Mr Brown were "a small number of people who have been with the prime minister for many years".

She said she would "like to see that extended to others" and was "pleased" Mr Brown had said he wanted to be more inclusive in a speech to Labour MPs on Monday.

She also attacked the culture of briefing against ministers she said existed in Downing Street.

"There are some advisers and some politicians who regularly brief the press in a negative way... I think they think they are doing a favour to the prime minister but I don't think they are."

She said stories about a group of women ministers who called themselves the WAGs - Women Against Gordon - who met to plot Mr Brown's downfall were an "invention" and a product of negative briefing.

"A group of women ministers who have been meeting regularly for some time now, occasionally to have a meal and a drink together, is not about plotting," she said.

"If we spent more energy on working together as a team, rather than seeing plots and testing people's loyalty then we would be better equipped to get on with the concerns that the public want us to deal with every day."

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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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