Blinker Brown; BROTHERS GRIM: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at John Smith's Funeral. Left: Tony Booth and Cherie

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

Blinker Brown; BROTHERS GRIM: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at John Smith's Funeral. Left: Tony Booth and Cherie


Byline: Alan Rimmer, Simon McGee

HE'S the father-in-law who embarrassed Tony Blair on more than oneoccasion during his time in office.

Now Tony Booth has put his foot in it again by lifting the lid on the tensionsbetween the former Prime Minister and his successor in Downing Street.

In an extraordinary knockabout interview with The Mail on Sunday he describeshow Tony Blair dismissed Gordon Brown as a 'blinker' - somebody who is weak ina stand-off.

And Mr Booth says the two men's relationship reached such a low while they wereDowning Street neighbours that Mr Brown once refused to let Cherie Blair carpethis half of the corridor linking No 10 with No 11.

But it is Blair's 'blinker' accusation that will irritate Mr Brown, labelledrepeatedly as a 'ditherer' by political opponents since last autumn's earlyElection climbdown.

Booth, an actor famous for his role as the layabout 'Scouse git' in the Sixtiessitcom Till Death Us Do Part, has previously embarrassed his son-in-law withhis drunken escapades, adult film roles and attacks on his policies forpensioners.

But now he is keen to defend him against Mr Brown.

He said: 'Gordon Brown is a s**t who has been undermining Tony for years. He'sbeen trying to humiliate him ever since the death of [former Labour leader]John Smith in 1994.' The revelations come as Mr Booth turned his guns on GordonBrown for reneging on promises to help sick and dying veterans of Britain'snuclear bomb tests. Mr Booth is a supporter of the British Nuclear TestVeterans' Association.

Mr Booth said Brown had treated his son-in-law with similar contempt when TonyBlair was a Shadow Cabinet member in the early Nineties.

He claimed it was that treatment that persuaded Blair to stand for the Labourleadership.

'The truth is both Brown and Smith treated Tony like a junior partner andcontemptuously called him ''the boy'' as they prepared for power,' he said.

'Even at John Smith's funeral Brown tried to humiliate Tony.

'When Tony arrived he found himself in a pew behind a big pillar while Brownand the rest had prime positions in full view of the TV cameras and so on.' MrBooth says that when manoeuvrings for the Labour leadership began following thefuneral, Blair made sure Brown met him on his home turf, at the Granitarestaurant in Islington.

It was there that the power-sharing deal giving Blair the first turn at theleadership was agreed.

'From that moment on, Tony had the better of Brown,' Mr Booth said. 'Tonythinks Brown's a ''blinker'', someone who blinks in a stand-off. Tony neverblinks, no matter who he meets. …

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