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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Blair like Thatcher - Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair
The two leaders have found common ground
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has said the key to Tony Blair's success is that he has "followed Margaret Thatcher's path".

Mr Berlusconi's comments come as the UK prime minister is due to hold a brainstorming session with fellow centre-left politicians near Chequers.


Tony Blair is doing well because he has essentially followed Thatcher's path

Silvio Berlusconi
Guests - including former US president Bill Clinton - are to look at why the left "win the arguments but are losing the elections".

Mr Blair has come under fire for his close alliance with Mr Berlusconi and with Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar - both right-wingers.

Mr Berlusconi's comments come in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

Quizzed as to why the right were enjoying a political resurgence in Europe he said: "Yes, there have been lousy results on the part of the socialists.

"Tony Blair is doing well because he has essentially followed Thatcher's path.

"You have to distinguish between the moderate left and the left left."

Different agendas

Mr Blair has in the past expressed admiration for Lady Thatcher - something that many Labour supporters have found difficult to stomach.

Margaret Thatcher
Mr Blair is said to admire Baroness Thatcher
But the prime minister's aides have always been at pains to stress the difference between the two politicians' agendas.

In February Mr Blair and Mr Berlusconi agreed in principle to adopt a common position for lifting regulations on European labour and energy markets during a Rome summit.

The meeting led at the time to speculation about the creation of a new alliance in the European Union.

See also:

15 Mar 02 | UK Politics
15 Feb 02 | UK Politics
22 Nov 00 | UK Politics
23 Feb 00 | UK Politics
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