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Brown battles to keep job

British leader shuffles ministers amid a growing party revolt.

LONDON - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown battled desperately yesterday to keep his job, ignoring demands to quit amid a flurry of cabinet resignations and a swelling rebellion in the ranks of his Labor Party.

Brown, who waited a decade to inherit his job from Tony Blair, promoted loyalists to cabinet posts in a shake-up of his team aimed at restoring his credibility. It follows a scandal over lawmakers' expenses and catastrophic results in local elections.

His actions failed to quell dissent among legislators or stem a procession of walkouts.

Caroline Flint quit as Europe minister - one of 10 ministers to resign out of 23 - and accused Brown of keeping her as "female window dressing" in a male-dominated cabinet.

Dissident legislators said a plot to oust Brown could gather pace when expected dismal results in the European Parliament elections are announced tomorrow.

"I will not walk away. I will get on with the job," Brown told reporters. He insisted he could defy all predictions by winning a national election, which must be called by June 2010.

Opponents say Brown is tainted by the recession and the expenses scandal, has little influence over his ranks, and is so unpopular that Labor is doomed when voters next have a chance to choose a government. The opposition Conservative Party routed Labor in local elections Thursday, winning council seats in former Labor strongholds in north and central England.

"I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less, likely," Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell told Brown late Thursday in a letter, quitting his cabinet post.

Brown spent much of yesterday huddled in his official Downing Street residence, shuffling Post-it notes bearing the names of lawmakers as he completed his cabinet shake-up. Outside, results of British local elections showed a collapse in support for his party, which has held power in Britain since 1997.

Labor looked likely to be pushed into third place behind the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, according to initial results.