Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Sunday, 11 May 2008 12:14 UK

Prescott reveals sulks and skirmishes

By Mark Sanders
BBC News

John Prescott
Mr Prescott says he acted as a broker between Mr Brown and Mr Blair

We are being allowed a sneaky peak through the thick damask curtains of government; the rows, the sulks and small matter of who exactly is running the country.

The latest round of revelations about what was going on between Blair and Brown is the political equivalent of "What the Butler Saw".

But John Prescott was no passive voyeur but an active participant in Downing Street's domestic drama.

He was called on "hundreds" of times to calm things down when there was an outbreak of the TB-GBs, the moments when the then chancellor and the then prime minister could not stand each other.

In the latest extract from his memoirs, published in the Sunday Times, the former deputy prime minister says that Tony Blair was "scared" of Gordon Brown and that Mr Prescott urged him to sack the chancellor.

'Bloody volcano'

According to Mr Prescott, he also urged Mr Brown to resign and fight the prime minister from the back benches.

The fact that Blair and Brown had a bad relationship at times is hardly a state secret, but John Prescott paints a colourful picture of what apparently was going on.

He says Mr Brown could "go off like a bloody volcano" (this from the DPM who punched a voter) and that the then chancellor was "frustrating, annoying, bewildering and prickly".

According to Mr Prescott, Tony Blair, "doesn't like the full-frontal approach. It puts him off his tea."

Bearing that in mind, the cup and saucer must have slipped from Mr Blair's grasp when Mr Prescott called him "a little s**t" during a row.

It is worth remembering that this is just one side of the story, recollections of heated moments now being serialised in a newspaper.

'Rattling the keys'

But Mr Prescott was at the top table of government from the moment that Labour took power. He was in the room when the voices were raised and the doors were slammed.

All this, just as Cherie Blair's autobiography is about to hit the shelves with its claims Mr Brown was "rattling the keys" of Downing Street over Mr Blair's head to try to force him out.

It is a rocky moment to be haunted by the past.

Gordon Brown could be being advised to laugh it off, dismissing it all as tittle-tattle, but the prime minister is hardly Mr Chuckles at the best of times.

Cherie Blair says that her husband is advising Gordon Brown through the current political turmoil. Perhaps the best piece of advice for Mr Brown could be: "Steer clear of bookshops for a bit."

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