Gordon Brown has told his closest allies that, after taking over the leadership from Tony Blair, he would serve as prime minister for a maximum of seven years. The Independent

'Gordon is planning to do three years [to the next election] and four and then step down,' one of his closest friends said. 'That's seven years. That is what he says. You only have to look at Thatcher and Blair, who did 10 years. With today's 24-hour news, you don't get anything like 10 years before people turn against you. He knows that, and he won't make that mistake.'

Brown faced a Tory vote of 'no confidence' yesterday on his conduct over a £5bn-a-year tax raid on pension funds, despite warnings by his own Treasury advisers of the consequences.