JOHN Howard this week confirmed he would lead the government to the next federal election and not step aside to allow his long-serving deputy and treasurer, Peter Costello, to take over the reigns. Mr Howard said he made the decision after speaking with his colleagues and emerged with the view that they wanted him to continue as prime minister. But he did not rule out leadership change altogether, saying he would accept any shift in sentiment by the party. Tensions between the prime minister and treasurer had escalated in past weeks, following Mr Costello’s public accusation that Mr Howard reneged on a promise he allegedly made in 1994 to hand over the leadership midway through any second term in government. Following this week’s announcement, Mr Costello has confirmed he will remain as treasurer.
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