WELCOME BACK PM.. NOW SORT THIS OUT; ULSTER; Peace Process Set to Collapse amid Upsurge in Terrorism; CAMPBELL; Press Chief Is in Hot Water over His Mock Queen Speech; PRESCOTT; Clashes with Your Deputy on Euro and Philip Gould

By Morris, Nigel | The Mirror (London, England), August 30, 1999 | Go to article overview

WELCOME BACK PM.. NOW SORT THIS OUT; ULSTER; Peace Process Set to Collapse amid Upsurge in Terrorism; CAMPBELL; Press Chief Is in Hot Water over His Mock Queen Speech; PRESCOTT; Clashes with Your Deputy on Euro and Philip Gould


Morris, Nigel, The Mirror (London, England)


TONY Blair flies back from holiday today to face a growing catalogue of problems.

His in-tray includes the crisis-hit Ulster peace process, strained relations with his deputy John Prescott and embarrassing claims that his press chief Alastair Campbell warned civil servants about ministers with skeletons in their cupboard.

He is said to have told them that two ministers "have trouble keeping their trousers on" and that one woman had a "colourful past".

Campbell, who briefed the officials before the first Cabinet meeting two years ago, said Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had "interesting arrangements" with his secretary Gaynor Regan. Cook later left his wife and married Gaynor.

And 18 months before Agriculture Minister Nick Brown came out, Campbell hinted that he was gay.

He is also said to have claimed that the Lord Chancellor Derry Irvine and the then Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar "hate each other's guts".

Campbell is alleged to have written a spoof of the Queen's Speech poking fun at the "fuddy duddy" monarch and Labour policy. It joked about promises to improve hospitals and schools and to tackle crime.

He called Scotland's proposed parliament "a dead duck", adding: "I wouldn't trust the Jocks as far as I could throw them."

The claims were made by Campbell's biographers Tom Condon and Eric Jacobs in their book On Message. Extracts were published yesterday. They say Campbell even dished out instructions to the PM and wrote Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson's resignation letter.

Tory chairman Michael Ancram last night accused Mr Campbell of "trawling around in the sex lives of ministers like a cheap gutter sleazemonger".

And he urged the Downing Street press secretary to "spend more time explaining Labour's failures and less time muck-raking".

But No 10 moved to ease the PM's embarrassment over Mr Campbell. …

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