UK Politics

In quotes: Reaction to Gordon Brown stepping down

What have friends, colleagues and commentators said after the news that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown is standing down from Parliament at next year's election?

Sarah Brown, wife

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"Today is quite an emotional day. I've known Gordon always as a Member of Parliament and I think most decisions we make as a family or as a couple but actually this one was for him alone. So... it's the end of this particular era. I don't read every comment... it's like never read your own reviews, you can take everything and be very wounded by it. I know the person that I know, I know the work that he does, I said once before rather publicly that he was my hero and I stand by that now."

Ed Miliband, Labour leader

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"He is a towering figure in British politics because, for a generation, he helped make the political weather and change our country. He played an enormous role in getting Labour elected in 1997 and sustaining the party in government. Gordon has a proud record on global justice including the negotiation of debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations. I know he will continue to campaign for justice around the world."

David Cameron, prime minister

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"Gordon has given a huge amount in terms of public service and his contribution in government and in parliament. I'm sure he will go on contributing to public life after he leaves the Commons."

Lord Mandelson, former Labour cabinet minister

"Gordon Brown was a big man when he was instrumental in creating New Labour with Tony and the rest of us and he remained a big man both as chancellor and prime minister. He didn't get everything right, and he would be the first to acknowledge that, but he did get the big things right - notably when it came to saving our banks after the financial crisis and saving the union when it looked as though Scotland was going to go independent. That's what he will be remembered for."

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's former director of communications

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"Gordon is... one of the political figures of our time with a great mind, an ability to focus on really big challenges and understand the role of politics in meeting those challenges. At his best to work with he was absolutely brilliant. And, equally, at other times he could be a nightmare to work with. I think sometimes, with really great figures, there is perhaps always a downside. He was brilliant but he was also impossible. He believed in big things and he saw politics as the pursuit of meeting those big things. That is ultimately what will define him but the impossibility will always be in there. I don't think anybody should walk away from that. I always gave him the benefit of the doubt except when he could be totally nightmarish and then sometimes we all lost it."

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister

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"There is no doubt that he has made an enormous contribution over many years to Scottish, UK and international politics. While we have clearly had our political differences - most recently in the independence referendum - he has my very best wishes as he announces his retirement from politics and for whatever he decides to do in future."

Jonathan Freedland, Guardian columnist

"There was a strain of Nixonite suspicion of rivals and enemies; he could be rudely dismissive of colleagues; he was famously destructive in his dealings with Blair, his one-time co-conspirator. "Once he was prime minister, insiders spoke of a paralysing indecision. Even admirers detected a gnawing insecurity. And yet, all those notorious psychological flaws have to be squared with a personal charm that was, fatally for him, invisible to the camera. It comes coupled with a quality that is not quite emotional intelligence as conventionally understood, but something rather deeper. Brown knows how to speak to those who have suffered, perhaps because he has endured more than his fair share of misfortune himself. He can demonstrate great empathy and wisdom, capable of showing a human understanding that confounds the television caricature. He has secured quite a legacy. He may not have saved the world, but Brown can legitimately claim to have saved the pound, the global financial system and the union." Read Jonathan Freedland's view in full.

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail columnist

"Brown had a seriousness out of keeping with the age. He never used his children as political pawns. He was intensely private in a 21st century where other politicians splash themselves over the glossy magazines and tweet every minute of their pathetically humdrum lives. He was teased for this. I daresay in parliamentary sketches for the Mail I may have joined in the merry japes about how marvellously bad Gordon was at hauling a smile to his chops for TV close-ups. There was something in this dark-fringed Scot that was strangely compelling, something that should make us stay our hand before we dismiss him. He was a brooder, fraught with grievances against the English smoothie Blair. He was difficult, contradictory, a broiling bruiser. He was as complex, deep, unhappy, as a Rachmaninov symphony. Not a great prime minister, no. But a fascinating study of a man." Read Quentin Letts' full view.

Len McCluskey, leader of Unite union

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"Gordon Brown exits the domestic political stage with his head held high. Decency, fairness, a man determined to take on the inequalities that blight lives - these are qualities we can forever associate with Gordon."

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