Civil War at No10; Relations Plunge to Freezing Point in Row over Brown's 'Plot' to Oust Blair

Daily Mail (London), April 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Civil War at No10; Relations Plunge to Freezing Point in Row over Brown's 'Plot' to Oust Blair


Byline: TIM SHIPMAN

RELATIONS between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown hit a new low yesterday after senior allies of the Prime Minister claimed that the Chancellor is plotting to derail his premiership.

John Prescott is preparing to step into the row amid lurid accusations that Gordon Brown's Budget was designed to undermine Labour's chances at the local elections and hasten Mr Blair's departure from Downing Street.

The Deputy Prime Minister was said to be 'bloody furious' after the Blair camp accused Mr Brown of deliberately dropping a [pounds sterling]200 council tax discount for pensioners from the Budget in order to cost the party votes.

The claim unleashed a firestorm of toxic briefing from both camps in Downing Street as Mr Blair flew home from a weeklong round-the-world trip.

The Treasury flatly denied the charge and said that Mr Blair had actually ordered the Chancellor in five separate pre-Budget meetings to avoid mention of pensioners because new measures will be unveiled in a White Paper due next month. Senior Labour sources said that Mr Prescott will now tell Mr Blair he must order his aides to stop briefing against Mr Brown.

They say that Labour whips have drawn up a hit list of ten Blairite troublemakers and are preparing to discipline them unless they desist.

Former Health Secretary Alan Milburn, who denounced Mr Brown's Budget, is said to be included in the list of those who are 'determined to prevent Mr Brown becoming Prime Minister or to cause civil war in the party if he gets in'.

Mr Prescott now feels that the Blairite briefings against Mr Brown have undermined his promise to a meeting of Labour's parliamentary committee that he would broker a smooth transition of power between Mr Blair and Mr Brown.

A senior insider said: 'John Prescott is bloody furious about this treachery.

'He will make it clear privately to the Prime Minister that he is furious.

There's going to be a very interesting conversation between John and Tony.

Blair has to act to stop this.' A Brown ally said: 'The idea that Gordon wants to undermine the success of the Labour Party is absurd. …

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