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Britain to Cut Troops in Iraq to 2,500 by Spring, Brown Says

Conservative leader David Cameron denounced that move as political opportunism and said it was designed to steal the limelight during the Conservatives' annual party conference.

In the Commons on Monday, Cameron said Brown should have made his initial announcement in Parliament, not in Iraq. Cameron said it was "not an acceptable way for a prime minister to behave."

"I make no apologies for visiting our troops in Iraq," Brown said to loud jeers from Conservative lawmakers. "If we are to have a responsible politics in this country," he continued, "then ministers who hold responsibility for the safety and security of our armed forces must visit our armed forces, listen to what they say, draw on their advice and then make their decisions -- which is what I am announcing today."

Brown, facing his toughest political struggle since taking office, has been harshly criticized by opposition politicians and the British news media for how he handled his recent decision not to call a general election this fall.

After considering the idea for two weeks, Brown announced Saturday that he had decided against an early election. Opposition leaders said Brown had lost his nerve when new polls showed the Conservatives gaining on his Labor Party, following Conservative pledges to reduce inheritance and other taxes.

At his monthly news conference Monday morning, Brown denied his decision was based on the poll results. He said he listened to those who argued that a snap election could bolster Labor's majority in Parliament. But ultimately, he said, he decided to give his policies more time to achieve results before calling an election.

Of his decision, Brown told reporters: "I could have done it earlier, maybe I should have done it earlier -- that's the reality of the situation."

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