LONDON – After a decade of waiting on the sidelines, Gordon Brown is about to get his big break. The taciturn treasurer, credited for much of Britain’s recent economic boom, is almost certain to become the next prime minister by the end of June, when Tony Blair steps down. Often described as dour, Brown has been criticized for everything from his dandruff to his alleged “Stalinist ruthlessness.” But he is largely an enigma, with little known about his political leanings. He has close ties to Democrats in the United States and is said to be particularly close to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. He once promised to “spend what it takes” to disarm Saddam Hussein and will likely keep British troops in Iraq for the near future. He will also probably try to maintain a strong relationship with Washington. Brown and Blair both won their Parliament seats in 1983, and it was the beginning of a long and often bitter rivalry for the pair known as the “Odd Couple.” The two found themselves sharing an office in Westminster. Immediately, they spotted each other’s strengths. When Labour Party leader John Smith died of a heart attack in 1994, both men were considered for the job. British newspapers have been saturated with rumors of squabbles between the two. While Blair initially supported the notion that Britain could embrace a common European currency, Brown quickly shot down the idea. Blair, needing Brown’s backing, dropped the notion. Few could ignore Brown’s economic mastery or political ambition.Brown stuck to Labour’s 1997 pledge to freeze income taxes. He increased government expenditures. He also pushed for the Bank of England’s independence, credited for Britain’s steady economic boom since World War II.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!