The BBC's website described Gordon Brown's statement today as "G.B. publicly gives Mr Blair his support". That's not how I heard it. These were the substantive parts of his statement [my transcription and emphases]:
I want to make it absolutely, er, clear today that, when I met the prime minister yesterday, I said to him, as I've said on many occasions to him and I repeat today, er, that it is for him to make the decision. I said also to him, and I make clear again today, that I will support him in the decisions he makes; that this cannot, and should not, be about private arrangements, but what is in the best interests of our party and, most of all, the best interests of our country; and I will support him in doing exactly that. (..)
And I am determined that in the months and years to come, we continue to do our duty, er, by the people of, er, Britain - and it is my determination, and his, to do that, that will influence everything that happens in the times to come.
Translation: provided the decisions Blair makes exactly accord with the best interests of the party and the country, Brown will support those decisions. If not, there will be an unstoppable rebellion. And obviously, in Brown's eyes, it's in the party's and the nation's interest that he become the next leader. That's deeply conditional support.
My expectation that Brown will never be PM is being challenged by this week's events. He looked confident today, as well he might - he's as close to it now as he's ever been. But I wonder whether it's as close as he'll ever get.