Gordon Brown – Blair DID offer to stand down and let me be PM

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has broken his silence over the infamous deal made with Tony Blair to replace him as Prime Minister.

And he says Blair DID agree to stand down during his second term, allowing Mr Brown to move into 10 Downing Street.

The pact has been the subject of intense speculation since the two politicians led Labour into power.

Mr Brown’s views are laid out in his memoirs, My Life, Our Times, which are published on Tuesday - ten years after he left office.

Famously called The Deal – after the title of a TV drama – it was said to have been struck over dinner at the Granita restaurant in London in 1994, following the sudden death of John Smith, leader of the Labour Party.

Mr Brown confirms he agreed to stand aside and let Blair get a clear run in the leadership race.

In return, he says Blair, on the basis on an election victory, agreed to then stand down in his second term.

Mr Brown wrote: “The restaurant did not survive and ultimately neither did our agreement.”

He cites diary entries made by his brother, Andrew, who took time from his work to support Mr Brown, and the agreement that was in place to hand over the keys to Number 10 a fortnight before the Granita dinner.

Mr Brown wrote: ‘‘Tony had reiterated that he had wanted me to stay on as shadow chancellor and would give me control over economic and social policy.

“This time, he added another promise – that if elected as Prime Minister, he would stand down in his second term.

“He said this was a family choice that he had already made. He wanted to be free from day-to-day politics to be with his children in their teens – the time of life when parents are most needed. It was a promise he repeated on several occasions.”

Mr Brown said he accepted the offer and the assurances that came with it, and informed those closest to him that he would not run for leader of the party.

“The rest was a formality,’’ he wrote. ‘‘On May 31, I sat down again with Tony near his home in London, at a restaurant called Granita. Ed Balls travelled with me to the restaurant and after a few minutes he left. I always smile when commentators write that we hammered out a deal in the restaurant.

“The Granita discussion merely confirmed what he had already offered and I had already agreed.

“The only new point was Tony’s overture that he wanted to show that, unlike the Tories under Mrs Thatcher, Labour was not a one-person band but a partnership. As we walked out of the restaurant towards his home, he emphasised the word ‘partnership’ again and again, telling me it represented a new departure for British politics.”

• My Life, Our Times by Gordon Brown will be published by The Bodley Head on Tuesday, November 7