THE SMOULDERING feud between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair over the leadership was put to rest yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a public declaration that he is not after the Prime Minister's job.
In his speech, Mr Brown rejected calls by John Edmonds, the GMB leader, and Rodney Bickerstaffe, the Unison leader, for public-sector workers to be awarded inflation-busting pay rises, and said there was no alternative to his economic policies.
But the Chancellor's friends said the key message to Mr Blair in Mr Brown's conference speech was a more personal one - as long as Tony Blair is Prime Minister, I am happy as Chancellor. I'm not after his job. There was speculation among ministers that Mr Brown and Mr Blair had agreed the rapprochement over private talks to put an end to the corrosive reports of the bitterness that the Chancellor nursed over being outmanoeuvred for the Labour Party leadership by Mr Blair and Peter Mandelson.
Mr Brown has not abandoned his ambitions to replace Mr Blair when the Prime Minister steps down, and Mr Blair's aides confessed to being puzzled by the Chancellor's decision to draw attention to their alleged rift by his "kiss and make up" routine. "We don't know what he's up to," said one Blair aide.
It was sealed in a carefully choreographed photo-opportunity on the conference platform between Mr Blair and Mr Brown. Mr Blair went across to his Chancellor and patted Mr Brown on the back after the Chancellor poured praise on Mr Blair for his long-term vision for the party, and spoke of their closeness since …