Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Friday, July 23, 1999 Published at 22:56 GMT 23:56 UK

UK Politics

Prescott admits 'courting unpopularity'

John Prescott's morning briefing at his flat

The deputy prime minister has said he understands if the public still needs convincing of his vision for transport in the UK.

John Prescott admitted to BBC News that the deluge of criticism over his handling of transport reform was a problem, but said he was not surprised.

John Prescott talks to Political Correspondent John Pienaar
"Yes, it's a problem, but I think perhaps I underestimated that, but I never thought I would be blamed for not reducing congestion in less than two years," he said.

"Long-term decisions mean that sometimes you court a little bit of unpopularity."

He denied there was a rift between him and the prime minister.

[ image: The deputy PM has denied reported rifts with Tony Blair]
The deputy PM has denied reported rifts with Tony Blair
"I work closely with him, we discuss these issues, I don't think we've ever had a row in government, despite all the kind of prattle," he said.

He has in the past blamed "faceless wonders" at Downing Street for saying he has not got a grip on his transport brief.

But critics including transport correspondents and the opposition say his approach is not working.

Paul Marston of the Daily Telegraph said: "John Prescott is too distracted.

"He chairs a large number of cabinet committees as deputy prime minister, performs a lot of ceremonial duties as deputy prime minister and he has a lot of international commitments as environment secretary.

"There is no one there batting for transport every day of the week."

[ image: Mr Prescott has come under criticism for his handling of transport]
Mr Prescott has come under criticism for his handling of transport
John Redwood, shadow transport secretary, said: "Mr Blair from time to time overrides him.

"Relations between the two men are at an all-time low. It's not getting better, it's getting worse.

"Motorists are frustrated, Tube travellers are frustrated, train commuters are frustrated and it's John Prescott's fault."

In the upcoming reshuffle Mr Prescott is said to have made sure he is keeping the transport portfolio.

"In a democracy I must convince them of the right way," he told the BBC's John Pienaar.

"I must do what politicians have not done before - face up to the realities of environmental damage and congestion.

"We have to change the way we do things."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Politics Contents

A-Z of Parliament
Talking Politics
Vote 2001

Relevant Stories

22 Jul 99†|†UK Politics
Blair faces commuters

20 Jul 99†|†UK Politics
Prescott promises 'fundamental change'

20 Jul 99†|†UK Politics
Need for transport 'quick fixes'

19 Jul 99†|†UK Politics
Prescott's transport changes grind to halt

15 Jul 99†|†UK Politics
Tube gets extra £500m

12 Jul 99†|†UK Politics
The 'decent' face of old Labour

Internet Links

Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Livingstone hits back

Catholic monarchy ban 'to continue'

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Straw on trial over jury reform

Blairs' surprise over baby

Conceived by a spin doctor?

Baby cynics question timing

Blair in new attack on Livingstone

Week in Westminster

Chris Smith answers your questions

Reid quits PR job

Children take over the Assembly

Two sword lengths

Industry misses new trains target