Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hollow Victory for Mr Blair

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hollow Victory for Mr Blair

Article excerpt

As victories go, Tony Blair's deliverance from humiliation last night over university top-up fees was a hollow one.

The MPs who saved him last night still have ample opportunities to torpedo the plans he, himself, turned into a test of his own credibility.

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown - who until yesterday had led opposition to the plan - played a key and controversial role in last night's drama.

His change of heart saw no less than seven fellow rebels move with him, including Durham North MP Kevan Jones, and Stockton North MP Frank Cook.

Mr Brown's assertion that the Government had "made enough concessions" to win his support was as sudden as it was dramatic.

As late as Monday evening his office was saying that his stance on the issue remained unchanged.

There were no subsequent changes to the Government's plan.

So what exactly changed?

According to Mr Brown it was a commission of inquiry into student debt next year, rather than 2009 as originally planned - which did the trick. …

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