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By Channel 4 News

Updated on 06 January 2010

On the cusp of the general election campaign, Gordon Brown's position as  Labour party leader is under renewed attack as former Cabinet members Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon mount a leadership challenge.

Either it was a plot that fell apart at the last minute or it was an extraordinary political miscalculation.

Calling for a secret ballot on the Labour leadership, retiring ex-ministers Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon today launched the third and least successful attempt on Gordon Brown's tenure.

They demanded that every Labour MP should vote in a secret ballot on whether they support him, sending their explosive email to all their parliamentary colleagues at the very moment that Gordon Brown stood up in the Commons for prime minister's questions.

Many Labour MPs are furious with them for reopening the leadership question at such a crucial moment.

Warning: this report from political editor Gary Gibbon contains flash photography.

Earlier, Jon Snow spoke to the Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband and asked him what he thought of the Hoon-Hewitt plot.

Asked by Jon Snow about the plot by Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt to oust Gordon Brown, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband concluded: "It is a rebellion - by a couple of people."

"I have respect for Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt but I think what they did was wrong," he said.

"I don't think it commands the support of anything more than a very small minority of my colleagues in party and indeed in Labour party members across the country.

"There are rebellions against prime ministers, these things happen. They've not quite said they want Gordon to go but nevertheless it is a rebellion by a couple of people. I think they're both wrong.

"The key question is do they command support of the Labour party? I don't think they do."

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