Source AP ©

Gordon Brown prepares for criticism

After rejecting early national elections Premier Gordon Brown will face his critics in the media and Parliament Monday.

Brown, who completed his first 100 days in office last week, was widely anticipated to take advantage of poll leads to take on his Conservative rival David Cameron in November parliamentary elections.

Brown brought forward key announcements on a British troop withdrawal in Iraq and domestic policy - changes that created election buzz.

However, Brown ruled that option out Sunday, saying he wanted his government to have time to show voters how it would transform public services and the economy.

Critics accused him of being afraid to face the public after opinion polls lurched back towards Cameron after a strong showing at last week's Conservative Party conference.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw, a senior member of Brown's Cabinet, acknowledged on Monday that opinion polls showing that Labour's lead had shrunk had a bearing on Brown's decision.

"The opinion polls are one of the factors that we take into account - it would be ridiculous to suggest otherwise, and I don't think anybody is doing that," Straw told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Brown replaced Tony Blair as prime minister in June, and does not have to call an election until May 2010. But speculation had been allowed to develop that he would call an election to seek his own mandate and to increase the Labour Party's majority in Parliament.

The British media which had praised Brown for his handling of several crises that marked his early days in office turned on the Scot for the first time, over his election planning.

"Brown Faces the Music," said the Daily Mail on its front page, while the popular tabloid The Sun reported that the prime minister was "in the Brown stuff."

After his monthly media conference, Brown faces lawmakers to outline plans for Iraq, where opponents are likely to grill him over why he made an early announcement over troop withdrawal during a visit to Iraq last week.

Critics say it was part of a plan to steal the limelight from the Conservatives who were holding their annual conference.

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