Monday 5 December 2016

Brown was as painful as a trip to the dentist, said Tony Blair

Nigel Morris in London

Published 03/09/2011 | 05:00

TONY Blair found it so difficult to work with Gordon Brown that he complained: "Dealing with GB is like having dental treatment with no anaesthetic," Alistair Darling recalls in his memoirs.

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The former chancellor of the exchequer recounts the conversation as he paints a damning portrait of the breakdown of communications between the top two men in the Blair government -- and of his own isolation when Mr Brown became prime minister.

According to a leak of the memoirs, which will be published next week, Mr Darling tells of his shouting matches with Mr Brown over the need for public spending cuts as Britain plunged into the red. He writes: "Speaking truth to power never came into it."

Mr Darling says his position became so difficult after Mr Brown tried to sack him as chancellor in 2009 that his wife, Maggie, jokingly likened him to Rudolf Hess living in solitary confinement in prison.

He found Mervyn King, the Bank of England Governor, "impish" and "amazingly stubborn and exasperating".

He claims that when the banking crisis began, Mr King referred to Northern Rock depositors trying to withdraw their savings and remarked: "I bitterly regret not thinking of these issues sooner -- I should have done so."

Mr Darling writes that a Treasury civil servant attended a meeting at which he told Mr Brown his strategy for tackling the economic crisis was doomed to fail. The official spent the meeting "languidly peeling an apple with his Swiss army knife", according to the leak.

Shouting

Mr Darling's publisher, Atlantic Books, has denounced earlier leaks of the memoirs. It said: "Following recent media speculation about 'Back From The Brink', the forthcoming memoir by Alistair Darling, Atlantic Books would like to state that the reports of the book's contents do not fully and fairly represent the author's views as expressed in the book."

Earlier leaks told of how Mr Darling resisted Mr Brown's attempts to demote him, and the establishment of a parallel operation, headed by Ed Balls, to shadow the Treasury. They also revealed his damning verdict on the "arrogant and stupid" bankers at the heart of the financial crisis.

Mr Blair's office declined last night to comment on the claims. (© Independent News Service)

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