Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 13:46 UK

Blair says Brown 'not to blame'

Tony Blair
Mr Blair has been a Middle East envoy since stepping down as PM

Gordon Brown is not to blame for Britain's economic woes, former prime minister Tony Blair has said.

Mr Blair said all world leaders were facing "tough times" as a result of things - the credit crunch and high oil prices - which were not their fault.

But shadow chancellor George Osborne said Mr Brown had failed to "set aside money in the good years".

Mr Blair also returned to Parliament to be questioned by MPs on his work as a Middle East peace envoy.

'Difficult job'

On GMTV, he was grilled about the performance of Mr Brown, who succeeded him as prime minister last year.

"I said when I left I was going to be 100% supportive of Gordon and that's what I continue to be, totally and completely, because I know it's a difficult job," said Mr Blair.

What we need to do is get a period of calm, to get a ceasefire in Gaza.
Tony Blair

"It's tough for all leaders at the moment, right round the Western world, they have got things that are happening that, to be fair to them, is not really their individual fault.

"If you take the financial crisis or fuel prices, these are things that are being driven by world events. It is tough at the moment and I continue to give them my full support and I hope they succeed and do well and I want them to."

He denied the credit crunch had been caused by the "liberal" banking regime set up by Mr Brown when he was chancellor.

"There may be many things that caused the credit crunch but to be absolutely frank it originated out in what we now call the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States of America and spreads then around the world and that's the world we live in today."

But Mr Osborne told BBC Radio 4's The World at One his criticism of Mr Brown had been "borne out".

'Sore point'

An OECD report showed "that the government's options had been limited by excessively loose fiscal policy", he added.

Turning to his family life, Mr Blair told GMTV he was spending a lot of time out of the country in his new role as a Middle East peace envoy for the Quartet of the US, EU, UN and Russia.

I feel for the older children more than with Leo
Tony Blair on family

This had helped him adjust to life after Number 10, by allowing him to put domestic UK issues out of his mind, but it had become a "sore point" at home.

"In the next year I have got to do a bit of rebalancing of work and family," he told GMTV.

Asked if he his family had suffered during his decade in power, he said: "I feel for the older children more than with Leo, I feel I should have and would have wanted to devote more time to them, but they seem OK with it."

'Dreadful'

Mr Blair also revealed he had learned how to use a computer and send text messages since leaving office and had a Blackberry handheld device.

Later, during his 80-minute session with the international development committee, he said the "humanitarian situation [in Gaza] is dreadful for the people there".

Mr Blair added: "The vast majority of people in Gaza are people who want to live a decent life and can't at the moment. What we need to do is get a period of calm, to get a ceasefire in Gaza."

It was necessary to "build our way back out of this to a situation where the people of Gaza can be helped", he added.

Mr Blair said his view of the Middle East had changed since he was dealing with the issue as prime minister and now seemed even "more important" and "fundamental" to wider peace.

He also urged whoever becomes the next US president to "focus the whole time" on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


SEE ALSO
Blair fears 'harming' Gaza talks
05 Jun 08 |  UK Politics
Key points: Blair grilled by MPs
05 Jun 08 |  UK Politics
The Tony Blair story
10 May 07 |  UK Politics
Blair's faith in difficult task
31 May 08 |  UK Politics
Blair confident of Mid-East deal
02 Feb 08 |  UK Politics

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Daily Mail Blair takes a swipe at 'inhuman' Brown - 15 hrs ago
Glasgow Herald Blair makes plea to next US president - 18 hrs ago
The Independent Blair backs Brown, but his private view is less supportive - 18 hrs ago
Daily Express 'Calm essential for Mid East peace' - 23 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Blair: Brown not to blame for economy - 27 hrs ago



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