Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday downplayed the decision of the Sun tabloid to switch its allegiance from the Labour Party to the opposition Conservatives.

Brown told the BBC during an interview at this week's Labour Party conference that the views of voters — rather than a publication — are what counts.

"It's the British people that decide the election, it's the British people's views that I am interested in," Brown said. "I think Sun readers actually, when they look at what I say, they will agree with what I said."

The timing of the Sun's announcement was particularly harsh, since it came just hours after Brown's sweeping speech outlining his hopes to carry the party into the future.

Under the banner headline "Labour's Lost It," the Sun said that after 12 years in power, the government had lost its way. The newspaper has supported Labour during the last three elections.

The tabloid's verdict is bad news for Brown, who is fighting hard to stave off defeat in an election expected for next year. His left-leaning party has slipped in the polls — falling to third place in one survey behind both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.