Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Sunday, 11 May 2008 12:43 UK

Blair scared of Brown - Prescott

Gordon Brown (left) and Tony Blair in May 2008
Gordon Brown scared the former prime minister, says John Prescott

John Prescott urged Tony Blair to sack Gordon Brown but says the former PM was "scared" of his chancellor.

In his memoirs, serialised in the Sunday Times, Mr Prescott says he also urged Mr Brown to stand down and fight Mr Blair from the Labour back benches.

The ex-deputy prime minister also says Mr Blair reneged on several promises to step aside for Mr Brown, who he describes as "annoying and prickly".

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he did not "recognise the portrait".

The Conservatives claimed Labour was "sinking in a morass of recriminations".

'Like a volcano'

In his memoirs, Mr Prescott says Mr Brown would sulk silently in meetings so often they had to be abandoned, while on other occasions, he could "go off like a bloody volcano".

Mr Prescott adds that he brokered "hundreds" of reconciliation sessions and phone calls between Mr Brown and Mr Blair.

And he claims that the then chancellor kept money back from Tony Blair's "pet" projects in order to give himself more money to play with once he became prime minister.

John Prescott
Mr Prescott reveals his problems with the English language

Mr Prescott also reveals he was planning to resign when news of his affair with his diary secretary broke, but was persuaded to stay on in the government by his wife, Pauline.

Other issues he covers are his shame at failing the 11-plus exam, his lifelong inferiority complex and "problems with the English language" and his rise from trade union firebrand to holding the post of deputy PM for 10 years.

But Mr Miliband told BBC One's The Politics Show: "I don't do book reviews. I work with Gordon Brown most days of the week.

"He's someone who's passionate about the [issues]... He does go into detail but that's good... I don't recognise the portrait John Prescott has set out."

Cherie Blair is also publishing her memoirs, in which she accuses Mr Brown of "rattling the keys" of Downing Street over her husband's head to try to force him out.

She claims Mr Blair was prepared to stand down before the 2005 general election if only Mr Brown had been prepared to back his public service reforms.

'Inconceivable'

Meanwhile, Mr Blair's former fund-raiser Lord Levy has repeated his view that Mr Brown must have known about secret loans to Labour ahead of the 2005 general election.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr show it was "inconceivable" that Mr Brown, who was overseeing the party's campaign, could not have done so.

A Downing Street source has said it was always made "categorically clear" without "any equivocation" that Mr Brown had known nothing about the loans.

For the Conservatives, shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: "We have got a government sinking in a morass of recriminations and name-calling."

Mr Prescott's revelations and Lord Levy's comments come as an opinion poll suggests Labour could lose the seat of Crewe and Nantwich in the forthcoming by-election.

An ICM survey for The Mail on Sunday puts the Tories on 43%, four points ahead of Labour on 39%, with the Liberal Democrats on 16%.

According to the newspaper, the figures would turn Labour's 7,078 majority into a Conservative majority of more than 1,000.

The by-election follows the death of long-serving MP Gwyneth Dunwoody last month.

ICM interviewed 1,004 people by telephone in Crewe on May 7 and 8 for its poll.


SEE ALSO
Blair 'secretly advising Brown'
10 May 08 |  UK Politics
Prescott tells of bulimia battle
20 Apr 08 |  UK Politics
Prescott to stand down as Hull MP
27 Aug 07 |  UK Politics
Prescott 'in talks over memoirs'
12 Aug 07 |  UK Politics
Prescott quits as deputy leader
10 May 07 |  UK Politics
Profile: John Prescott
27 Aug 07 |  UK Politics

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