Speaking to Jon Sopel on Sunday 24 June, the incoming Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, congratulated Tony Blair on the deal he negotiated at the Brussels summit, and said he did not think the Reform Treaty merited a referendum.
"Thanks to the negotiating skill of Tony they [four red lines] have been achieved," he said "and I think people when they look at the small print will see that we did what we set out to do and that was to make sure that in these areas we were properly protected as a country to make our own decisions when we want to do so."
"On the face of it," he continued, "we've got all the details coming through from all the protocols as well as the amending treaty itself what we set out to achieve which is protecting the British national interest in these four crucial areas.
"For example, the Charter of Rights, we should be protected in British law on that and all the other areas we seem to have been able thanks to the negotiation to have achieved that.
"On that basis, like every other treaty that has been negotiated - Nice, Amsterdam, Maastricht - and that while many other people will call for a referendum it seems to me that we have met our negotiating position."
Mr Brown was asked about the idea of Tony Blair becoming a Middle East envoy for the major powers.
He responded warmly to the idea, saying: "I think Tony Blair," he insisted, "not only has made an immense contribution not just to our national life, but to the international community, but obviously has a very great contribution that if he chooses to make, and I believe he will be pressed to make that contribution, that he should be invited to make.
"Tony Blair has a great knowledge both of reconciliation, and how to make it happen as we found from Northern Ireland, and a great interest in the areas we were just talking about."
Jon Sopel put to Mr Brown that he appeared to have acted in an underhand way when he offered Lord Ashdown a job, after Ming Campbell had said "no" Lib Dem would serve.
Mr Brown angrily rejected this accusation saying "This is not a correct account of what happened - it is a total travesty of what happened.
"What I would say to you is absolutely this... that there are people of expertise and wide experience.
"They may not be in your own political party but in the case of Northern Ireland, I was talking to someone who had something to offer and I think it's right that we are inclusive and it's right to draw on all the talents, and I think you will see that we are in a position whether it's in one capacity or another to draw on some of the talents of our society who are not normally associated with party political events and forces."
Mr Brown was asked whether or not deputy leadership candidates had hinted at shifts to the left on issues like Trident, taxes and relations with the US.
Gordon Brown sent a shot across their bows: "Nobody is going to serve in the government of the Labour Party starting on Wednesday who is not prepared to support the manifesto of our party.
"When people make these comments, they have got to look at what the policy of our party is and the policy the government is pursuing and there will have to be discipline in the government that I lead."
Council housing retreat
He also appeared to retreat from his own recent statements suggesting that more council houses might be built: "I think you've got to look at how the public sector as a whole can contribute and then make up your mind about where the right contribution can be made.
"Housing Associations yes - Councils get receipts obviously from the houses that they sell, but I think you're going to have to be patient and wait until we look at the detail of what is going to be done."
Law and order
Mr Brown suggested a new role for Citizens' Juries - akin to jury service in criminal trials, in which ordinary people would contribute to the policy-making process.
He said: "I believe that citizens' juries and citizens' jury service could become a thing of the future - inviting people from all parts of the country, 600 constituencies, one, two or three hundred people discussing an issue through, feedback to government and then government responding and saying this is what we are going to do as a result.
"This is an important way of consulting."
Business Advisory Council
And he announced the setting up of a Business Advisory Council, in which business leaders would keep him informed about the issues of most concern to them:
"If you take the example of business, you know I feel that we could do better in the way we engage the business community in the big decisions about the future of our country.
"And so I'm going to propose over the next few days that we have a business council for Britain, and that business council will be able to look at, adjudicate upon, inquire into the policies that we are pursuing.
"It will also be able to look at how some of the parts of business policy at the moment, the industrial policy, technology policy, should be independent of the government, like the Bank of England is independent of government.
"But I want to draw on and have a better relationship with all the great business leaders of our country who should be playing a part in helping us build a stronger economy, and of course a more prosperous society for the years to come."
Gordon Brown also made it clear that there would be no more money to the Scottish Parliament from central government.
"The Scottish Parliament has a budget. If it chooses to spend its budget on one thing and not the other, then it will not be able to spend the money.
"If it spends it on reduced fees - on old people or healthcare of something else┐ there is no more money coming from us in central government."
Jon Sopel: Gordon Brown, how is your government going to be different to Tony Blair's?
Gordon Brown: New challenges, new priorities, new ways of governing. I think what people are seeing is in 2007 what we've got to do is quite different from some of the things we had to do in 1997, so we've got the problem of climate change, we've got global economic competition, we've got the problem also of terrorism and security, but equally we've got the issue of people's rising aspirations.
So people want better health care, they want schools to be of the highest standard, they want our public services to be tailored to their needs, and it's responding to people's rising aspirations partly because of our success but partly because people legitimately have higher expectations of government. There is the challenge particularly for public services in the years to come.
Jon Sopel: But how can you argue that Gordon Brown is going to be a big change when you've been one of the principal architects of the past ten years of government?
Gordon Brown: Well you see what I've realised over ten years - and I've been talking about this as I go round the country - is that yes in 1997 we had to do things and almost pull a lever, so we had to have a new deal to get people back to work. We've got a million people... now two million people back into work. In 2007 the challenges are a bit different.
You've got to involve and engage people far more, so all decisions that we make will have to be build from an understanding of grassroots opinion, people being more engaged in the decision making. The old method was if a politician went out in the country you have a public meeting.
Then we had like television question times. Now what you've got to do, because we've got to listen to people's real concerns, is engage people in discussing right through a big issue. You know, it could be the health service, it could be drugs, these are big issues about how our community is changing as a result of globalisation. It could be smoking, I did one on that. It could be the British way of life, I did one on that. But what happens is, you ask people, look, here are the problems that we've got. We can't solve these problems on our own.
We can only solve them if you yourself are in engaged in... like the environment, you can't solve it without personal responsibility and people accepting that they have a role to play. And then you work through the problem, I believe that citizens' juries and citizens' jury service, could become a thing of the future, inviting people in all parts of the country, perhaps on a day like this, 600 constituencies, 100 or 200 or 300 people there discussing an issue through, feed back to government and then government responding and saying this is what we're going to do as a result. I think this is an important way of consulting.
Jon Sopel: Okay, you said it when you launched your campaign that the NHS would be your priority and that Education would be your passion. Let's talk about the priority. What does it mean that the NHS is going to be your priority?
Gordon Brown: Because I've been listening to what people say about the NHS and we have got to do better and we will do better, and I think what's happened is that people see that the new investment is being made, they see the new hospitals, they see that there are nurses being hired, they see the new equipment as well, but I think there's really three things they want to be sure about, one is that the NHS is here for you when you need it, so people are worried about GPs opening hours, about can they have a range of services at a local level for weekends and for after hours.
The second thing is that people are pleased often by the standard of surgical care in the hospital but worried about, in a way, higher aspirations, making them worried about personal care, and so we've got to deal with these issues of cleanliness in food and standards and aftercare and the time that a doctor and a nurse has to deal with the patient, and if I may just finish with the third thing, is we've got to lead the world in the new cures from breast cancer to diabetes, to dealing with some of the diseases that have yet to be conquered, Britain, with its National Health Service, can, I believe, lead the world.
Jon Sopel: Is it your problem that you've been obsessed by targets in the government and despite the billions that you've pumped in, ordinary people are more concerned about whether their A&E department is going to close or whether they're going to go into hospital and come out with a super bug.
Gordon Brown: And we've got to respond to people's concerns directly and you're not a government in the modern world if you're not listening all the time and responding to these concerns.
Jon Sopel: So have you been too target driven? You've imposed, I think, 64 targets on the NHS with the Treasury monitoring everything from the number of undisclosed invoices paid by NHS bodies to the.... and let me read this: "the co-efficient variation of the timed market forces factor adjusted reference cost index through an NHS trust." It sounds like you're trying to suffocate the Health Service.
Gordon Brown: No. What we're trying to do is to get value for money. But value for money will be achieved in the longer term, as I have been proposing. If we can get that real time, local... you see in New York - I've been in New York - looked at the police, every week the police... almost every day, update their results on how they're performing. People then challenge the police and say: "Look, you can do better in my precinct, in my neighbourhood" and it's got to be the same for the Health Service in the future, where at a local level people will be able to get the information about what the waits are, what the standard of care is, how many reported incidents there are of something going wrong whether it's in the Health Service or anywhere else, and then challenge. Now that's where we're trying to move over the next few years.
Jon Sopel: Well let's turn from your priority to your passion now and Education. How would you answer this from one of our viewers, Susan Lang, who has contacted us from Lichfield. She's said: "Why is it only English and Welsh students are the only students in the European Union who are not allowed to study in Scotland for free but it's our taxes which pays for the rest of the EU to study there?"
Gordon Brown: Look, the Scottish Parliament has a budget. If it chooses to spend its budget on one thing and not the other then it will not be able to spend money if it spends it on reduced fees, on old people or on health care or on something else. Now devolution, like to a local council or to a Scottish or Welsh parliament, it's about the local people making the decisions. But if they use the money for one thing, they can't use it for something else. There is no more money coming from us, from Central Government.
Jon Sopel: But you said, when you spoke to the BBC editors on Friday, that: "I think you've got to continue to look at the evolution of the constitution and you've got to be sensitive to the needs of 85% of the population who are English." It sounds like you think that the English might have a grievance.
Gordon Brown: I think that the constitution can only work if all parts of the United Kingdom feel that it offers them both a recognition of their needs and is sensitive to any complaints that they have. So if there is a sense in any part of the United Kingdom that we've got to do things better, we've got to look at it.
Jon Sopel: Do you sense the English have a grievance then?
Gordon Brown: I sense that the constitution is in the process, as I said on Friday, of evolution, and I sense also that we can respond to some of these concerns in a way that preserves the unity of the United Kingdom, and the one thing I'm clear about, whether it's been in Scotland or Wales or in England itself is that people do want, in the majority, to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Jon Sopel: Okay, you've spoken about a government of all the talents, and you tried and failed offering a job to a very senior Liberal Democrat. Don't you find yourself a bit like the Football Association where it goes after the former Brazilian coach Phil Scolari and ends up with Steve McClaren?
Gordon Brown: No, because I believe that if you're looking at how a country can do better in years to come, you've got to try and build a shared consensus a bit different from a football team, you've got to try and build a shared consensus about what the authorities are, and you should try to draw on the advice of, and sometimes the engagement in government, of people who have got expertise, who've got something to offer, who've been proven to have a certain wisdom in a particular area. And I think, if you take the example of business, you know, I feel we could do better in the way that we engage the business community in the big decisions about the future of our country.
And so I'm going to propose over the next few days that we have a business council for Britain and that business council will be able to look at, adjudicate to parliament and inquire into the policies that we are pursuing, and it will also be able to look at how some of the parts of business policy at the moment, industrial policy, technology, should be independent of government, like the Bank of England is independent is government in government, but I want to draw and have a better relationship with all the great business leaders of our country who should be playing a part in helping us build a stronger economy, and of course, a more prosperous society for the years to come.
Jon Sopel: Okay, let me just go back to Lord Ashdown, wasn't it rather sneaky and underhand. Sir Menzies Campbell, your friend, had said to you: "No Liberal Democrat is going to serve" and after he said that to you, you still tried to get off a...
Gordon Brown: I'm not going to get into private conversations but that is a total travesty of actually what happened, but these are confidential conversations and it's not for me to breach confidences. The one thing I say is where someone...
Jon Sopel: So it's not true that you went to Paddy Ashdown Ming Campbell would say no Liberal Democrat would serve?
Gordon Brown: This is not a correct account of what happened. It is a travesty of what happened. What I would say to you is absolutely this, that there are people of expertise, there are people who have got wide experience. They may not be in your own political party but as was the case of Northern Ireland, I was talking to someone who had something to offer. And I think it's right that we are inclusive. I think it's right that we try to draw on all the talents, and I think you'll see that we are in a position, whether it's in one capacity or another, to draw on some of the talents of our society who are not normally associated with party political events and forces, because they too believe, like me, that what matters at the end of the day is the future of our country and building a better Britain and building a shared sense of national purpose, and I think that people look to us to bring an end to the old politics that are too tribal, that have been too divisive and be inclusive and reach out and try to bring in people who have got something to offer.
Jon Sopel: Very interesting what you say. So should we expect that come this Thursday when you announce the shape of your government, that there will be non-Labour members in it at some ministerial level?
Gordon Brown: I'm not going to make any announcements, tempting, you know, when talking to you and not to the House of Commons or to any other audience, but I'm not going to pre-empt any announcement.
Jon Sopel: But listening to what you said, it sounds like a logical...
Gordon Brown: I think the principle that we should work on for the future of British politics is that we have to be far more inquisitive, we have to reach out more, there are people with contributions that they can make - not necessarily in government positions as ministers but contributions they can make to our national life, and there are people of standing whose talents that I will want to draw on to make for a better government of this country.
Jon Sopel: So without prejudging, then you've said, yes you would like to have a government without... with.. you know, maybe some other people that have non-Labour party members in it.
Gordon Brown: Well I've said already, and I actually said on Friday, it's just this, there are some people who are not associated with any political party who've got an expertise that they can offer. Now it may be they'd undertake a review for us, it may be that they come in, in an advisory role, it may be in other capacities as well.
But the principle is in my view right, we are talking about building a better Britain, a more successful economy, a stronger society, I want to draw on the talents of people who can contribute to that and I think most people watching this programme will say that old tribal divisive politics have got less to offer than an inclusive approach that I'm talking about.
Jon Sopel: Okay, just one more thing on the new politics. Lord Goldsmith amounted that he's standing down as Attorney General. Is it a chance for you to look again at the role of Attorney General and maybe depoliticise that role?
Gordon Brown: Well I'm talking, as you probably know, about looking at the whole of our constitution. We've had some great changes over the last few years but it is time to look again at how Parliament can gain more power from the Executive and how the people itself can gain more power from Parliament and the Executive, and of course, in the context of that you would be prepared to look at the role of Attorney General.
Jon Sopel: Right, hopefully a couple of simple questions. Are you committed to having a Deputy Prime Minister ?
Gordon Brown: That's for me to decide at a later date and not to make any announcements on today.
Jon Sopel: And are you committed, if you do decide to have a Deputy Prime Minister, that that person should be whoever wins the Deputy Leadership contest?
Gordon Brown: Well I'm not going to get into that because first of all this is not the time to do so when I've not talked to any of my colleagues before talking to you but also the time to make these decisions is when I announce them on Wednesday and Thursday.
Jon Sopel: But I'm sure if I said: "Are you going to have a Chancellor of the Exchequer?" Are you going to have a Foreign Secretary and whatever else, you'd say yes of course I am. Why can't you say you are going to have a Deputy Prime Minister?
Gordon Brown: I'm enjoying the discussion but this is something I have to discuss with my colleagues.
Jon Sopel: Okay, let's talk about the Deputy Leadership contest because you've been stressing the new politics but it seems like the Deputy Leadership contest at times has seemed like a trip down memory lane with a massive lurch to the left.
Gordon Brown: I did not and I don't believe that that is the case. I think we've got some very good candidates. They've been putting forward their own views, but I also think that no matter what causes you want to throw at me that what they've said, I mean generally speaking, there's nobody here is going to serve in the government of the Labour Party starting on Wednesday who is not prepared to support the manifesto of our Party.
Jon Sopel: Yes, so I will give you a...
Gordon Brown: I thought that was very...
Jon Sopel: Well exactly. Harriet Harman calling for the United States to be taken the Security Council in Guantanamo Bay. John Cruddas wanting higher tax rates, Peter Hain's appalled by City bonuses.
Gordon Brown: I think when people make these comments they have got to look at what the policy of our party is, what the policy of the government is pursuing and there will have to be discipline in the government that I lead.
Jon Sopel: That's a shot across the bow, isn't it?
Gordon Brown: I think it's very important for people to recognise that as we move forward the manifesto is what we put to the public, we've got to honour that manifesto, that is an issue of trust that we have with the electorate and people who have additional views to put forward, by all means, put them forward to the next manifesto, but we are not going to go beyond implementing the principles and the policies of this manifesto and somehow change it overnight.
Jon Sopel: Just on one thing that has come out of the Deputy Leadership contest which does seem to have gained some traction, it's the idea of councils being allowed to build more council houses.
Gordon Brown: I think you'll find that the debate about housing is becoming far broader than it was a few years ago. In other words, we've got a national priority to build more houses and of course the private sector will build almost... the biggest share of them. Housing associations are doing what they can and we will increase the budget for social housing by 50% and we've got to look at whether the arrangements that governed the building of housing both to rent and to buy are going to get us the results that we need, which is to meet the demand, particularly - as I found going round the country - of young couples wanting to get onto the housing ladder for the first time, frustrated they're not able to do, and that's why I said the new challenge is affordable housing and it's one that we will address immediately.
Jon Sopel: So would you build council houses?
Gordon Brown: I think you've got to look at how the public sector as a whole can contribute and then make up your mind about where the right contribution can be made.
Jon Sopel: So there might be a role for...
Gordon Brown: Housing associations yes, councils get receipts obviously from the houses that they sell, but I think you're going to have to be patient and wait till we look at the detail of what has got to be done, because the national priority is that we build houses in a way that they are affordable for people and we've got to recognise that while more and more people want houses to buy and to own, and this is a great thing, people getting on the housing ladder, there are many also who need houses to rent.
Jon Sopel: Okay. There's an EU summit that ended in the wee small hours of Saturday morning. Do you sign up fully to what Tony Blair has agreed in Brussels?
Gordon Brown: Well there were four red lines that we set down, very clear that we could not be overruled on foreign and defence policy or on justice and home policy, or on, if you like, business and social and employment legislation, and we had a particular concern about social security. I've read that the detail of what has come out of this, and it seems that all our four red lines, thanks to the negotiating skill of Tony, they have been achieved, and I think people when they look at the small print there will see that we did what we set out to do and that was to make sure that in these areas we were properly protected as a country to make our own decisions when we wanted to do so.
Jon Sopel: So, on the basis of what has been signed, does there need to be a referendum on it?
Gordon Brown: Well of course there's going to be a debate about this, but my judgement is that if we were to get these four red lines achieved, and my judgement is that we have achieved these four really demands that Britain had of the European Union, that that means that just in the case of all the other amending treaties, the Nice and Maastricht and so on, that the public would not therefore expect there to be a referendum, and I think I'm right in saying that no other country, and I think there were five who were about to or had had referendums, no other country in the rest of Europe now thinks it's necessary to have a referendum other than those that are constitutionally bound to do so.
Jon Sopel: I heard the Foreign Secretary say: "But of course there have been some areas where Brussels has more power, there's been more agreement of qualified majority voting and got the veto. William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary says: "Given their manifesto commitment to a referendum on the eve of the constitution the government have absolutely no democratic mandate to introduce these major changes without letting the British people have the final say in a referendum."
Gordon Brown: Well he would say that, wouldn't he, but when it came to Maastricht when the Conservatives were in power, they didn't have a referendum. You've got to look at the small print here rather than the political rhetoric and in each of the areas where we set out to achieve our negotiated objectives, either we are not affected directly by the European amended treaty because we have an exemption or an opt-in in some cases, or, alternatively, it doesn't count that effect that people claimed on British institutions or British law.
Jon Sopel: But there is going to be extension of majority voting on foreign policy, a European foreign minister in all but name, end to the national veto on things like transport and energy, those things matter.
Gordon Brown: Well, let's get to the heart of qualified majority voting. In each of the major treaties, and actually the biggest one was when Mrs Thatcher negotiated the Single European Act, there has been qualified majority voting in many cases because we have asked for it so that we can get decisions made in key areas. So it's not a matter of principle that there should never be qualified majority voting. Look, the European Union is now 27, it's got to work better. This is not a new constitution, it's an amending treaty. All these symbols that were talked about before are not there. The Charter of Rights we have got a position in the protocol that protects us, so in the key areas the fundamental issues that people raised beforehand I believe our strong negotiating position has been successful.
Jon Sopel: So despite the pressure that may come from the Mail, the Sun, who knows whichever papers, and the opposition political parties - no referendum?
Gordon Brown: Well it looks on the face of it, and we're just getting all the details obviously of what has been agreed and what has been published, and particularly the protocols which go side by side with the other decisions that have been made, that all four of what we set out to achieve as our negotiating red lines we have met our objectives in that and therefore the issues that we were worried about have been dealt with. And as with the other treaties in the past, and as I suspect with other countries who have decided to hold a referendum before but are not going to do so now, we see us having met our negotiated objectives.
Jon Sopel: Now you just praised there Tony Blair's negotiating skills. It's being touted around that he might become a Middle East envoy for the quartet. What would you think of that?
Gordon Brown: Well I think Tony Blair not only has made an immense contribution, not just to our national life but to the international community, but obviously has a very major contribution that if he chooses to make and I believe he will be pressed to make that contribution, he should be invited to make. And Tony Blair has a great knowledge of both reconciliation on how to make it happen as we've done from Northern Ireland and a great interest in the areas that we're just talking about. And so what Tony Blair can do to help both world peace and prosperity over the next few years is something that no doubt he will be considering and obviously I hope he's in a position to make a contribution.
Jon Sopel: So you say he will be pressed, this is real, this is... it sounds like you're making it sound like it's quite close that he will become the Middle East envoy for the quartet.
Gordon Brown: Now hold on, I don't know the individual discussions that have taken place but you know in many areas Tony will be asked, as I suspect you will know, to make a contribution, whether it's on interfaith dialogue in which he's got a great interest, or on the future of Africa where he's taken himself a very big role in trying to make possible some of the breakthroughs we've had in debt relief and on aid and the on the empowerment of the poor and developing countries. In all these areas I think people will continue to press Tony to do things and no doubt he'll choose what is the best contribution that he thinks he can make to public life in the future.
Jon Sopel: Is there going to be any difference in your relationship with President Bush?
Gordon Brown: I think the relationship between a British Prime Minister and an American President has always got to be a strong one. No, I have not known President Bush in the way that Tony Blair has known President Bush, and obviously they've had a relationship from exactly the time that President Bush took over, but I believe that the relationship between Britain and America is fundamental to our future success. I find it strange that we have political parties in this country saying that they're now anti-European and anti-American. The whole purpose of a good foreign policy is to build alliances for progress and I want us to play a part in what I think will be a very big issue, and that's reshaping the international institutions, but fundamental to our partnerships and alliances are our relationship with Europe, our relationship with America and of course our relationship with the Commonwealth.
Jon Sopel: Okay. We started this interview talking about how your government was going to be different to Tony Blair's, how are you going to personally change in maybe the way that you deal with your colleagues?
Gordon Brown: I think when you're Chancellor, let's be honest, you've got to say to people if they come for money - no. And it's a different job from being the leader of the party where I believe you've got to bring people together and you've got to reach out. In the country as a whole which is what I find most exciting of all, the challenge in modern politics you know is to build a shared sense of national purpose. The challenge is to try and get people together and build a consensus.
So we've got long-term decisions we've got to make about how much and how... and what polity we invest in education, about what we've got to do about science and innovation. You've got to build a national consensus. So I believe that the role that I've got to play is bringing people together to make sure that we, Britain, can have a strong sense of shared purpose in the way that other countries also do.
Jon Sopel: This weekend Tony Blair has gone off to see the Pope amid speculation that he may be converting to Catholicism. Can I ask you what part will your faith play when you become Prime Minister?
Gordon Brown: As you know, I grew up and my father was a minister to the church, and has been a very strong influence in my life. I think the most important thing it's taught me is to treat everybody equally, to show respect to all people and to feel a sense of responsibility to other people, and I'm not one of those people who want to lecture of hector about what is I think essentially a very personal thing. But I am very clear, as someone who has strong convictions that what I grew up with and what I was taught when I was young has had a huge influence in my life.
Jon Sopel: And a final personal thing, are you concerned for your family given the exposure that you're all going to be subject to once you move into No.10?
Gordon Brown: I think we've had to live with some of it for the last few years. Obviously I hope people will respect that I've got very, very young children, but I think also people have a right to know who you are, what you believe, what you stand for, what you're trying to achieve, so that is very much part of the job that you've got to show people that you are who you are and not try to sort of use some excuse to run away from the attention that you've got to have, and people have a right to know what you want to say.
Jon Sopel: Gordon Brown, thank you very much.
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The Politics Show Sunday 24 June 2007 at 12:00 BST on BBC One.
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