Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Saturday, 10 May 2008 09:48 UK

Blair 'secretly advising Brown'

Cherie Blair
Mrs Blair says she has 'nothing personal' against Gordon Brown

Tony Blair is giving advice to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and has told him how to win the next election, Cherie Blair has said.

Her disclosure is made in an interview with the Times newspaper to coincide with its serialisation of her autobiography, Speaking for Myself.

In one extract from the book, she reveals how her husband suffered a crisis of confidence over the Iraq war.

But she writes he decided to stay on as PM to fight for his domestic legacy.

'Rattling the keys'

During 10 years in Downing Street, Mrs Blair, the former prime minister's wife, continued her high-flying legal career and became a high profile media figure in her own right.

Over the years she was in the headlines almost as much as her husband, and not always for the reasons she would have liked.

The book, to be published later this month, gives her account of the widely reported tensions between herself and the then chancellor, Gordon Brown, and explains why her husband chose not to stand down before the 2005 general election.

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Cherie Blair on the Blair-Brown relationship

In it, she accuses Mr Brown of "rattling the keys" of Downing Street over Mr Blair's head to try to force him out.

And she says Mr Blair would have stood down in 2005 if only Mr Brown had been prepared to back his public service reforms.

Instead, she says he decided that he had to stay on in order to entrench his plans for city academies, foundation hospitals, and pensions reform.

In other extracts from the book and the interview, she says:

  • The leadership deal that Mr Blair and Mr Brown struck happened at a neighbour's home, not at the Granita restaurant in Islington as was widely reported
  • Mr Blair used to tell Mr Brown to get married if he wanted to be leader
  • Mr Brown, as the new chancellor, was wrong to announce he was not going to take a salary increase, thereby putting pressure on others to follow suit. "How dare Gordon do that? What did he know about financial commitments? He was a bachelor living on his own in a flat with a small mortgage," she writes.
  • She said the Blairs had "a mortgage the size of Mount Snowdon" on their 3.6m house in London's Connaught Square. "That was very scary. Whatever happened, we had to meet the monthly payment and it was down to me. Because no one else was going to meet it, were they?"
  • "The problem between me and Gordon is not anything personal. It is because I thought my husband was the best person for the job and it is a damn difficult job."
  • It was her idea for Carole Caplin, her lifestyle guru, to give Mr Blair massages and it was Ms Caplin who "kept her thin"

Mrs Blair's book had been scheduled for publication in autumn.

Its surprise early release comes at a difficult time for the Labour government which suffered substantial losses in the recent local elections.




SEE ALSO
Cherie to publish autobiography
20 Sep 07 |  UK Politics
Farewell to the 'First Lady'
24 Jun 07 |  UK Politics
Being the prime minister's wife
12 May 07 |  UK Politics
Extracts from Campbell memoirs
09 Jul 07 |  UK Politics

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