Tuesday 28 January 2020

Brown admits he has 'difficult relationship' with Darling

Chancellor stands by claim that PM unleashed 'forces of hell' on him

Andrew Porter and Mary Riddell in London

Gordon Brown has refused to say whether Alistair Darling would be his chancellor if Labour won the general election and admits to a "difficult relationship" with his Downing Street neighbour.

In an interview last night, the British prime minister refused to confirm the appointment and said he could not be expected to announce his cabinet while "we've got an election to get through".

It was widely expected, not least by supporters of Mr Darling, that he would not be retained at the Treasury if Labour confounded expectations by forming the next government.

Tensions between the two men were laid bare this week when the chancellor accused Mr Brown of allowing No 10 spin doctors to unleash "the forces of hell" on him.

He fanned the flames of the dispute yesterday when asked whether he stood by his comments. "Of course I do, and not just some of it, all of it," he said.

Mr Brown said the relationship with his chancellor was difficult "because there are difficult questions to ask", but that did not mean he did not get on with Mr Darling.

Last night, Mr Darling vigorously defended claims that prime ministerial aides had unleashed attacks on him, saying: "Of course I stand by it -- all of it, not just half of it, all of it."


The robust defence follows Mr Brown's claim yesterday that the chancellor's remarks were "completely wrong" and "so ridiculous".

Mr Brown and Mr Darling put on a show of unity at prime minister's questions following the chancellor's frank admission on Sky News on Tuesday, prompting Tory leader David Cameron to accuse them of being "at war".

But Mr Darling nonetheless yesterday stood firmly by his claims that the "forces of hell were unleashed" from No 10 after he gave a newspaper interview in 2008 predicting -- accurately -- that the recession would be the worst for 60 years.

He told the BBC News channel: "Of course I stand by it -- all of it, not just half of it, all of it.

"And I think it's rather more important at the moment that we concentrate on things that are really important, and one of them is clearly the economy."

Mr Darling also said that he was working "exceptionally closely" with the prime minister.

"Nothing surprises me, you're talking about something that happened a couple of years ago," he said.

"At the moment I'm completely focused on the job in hand which is to make sure we do get recovery in the economy."

Yesterday during a visit to Glasgow, Mr Brown was asked how damaging the chancellor's remarks -- and claims that Mr Brown had accused Tony Blair of ruining his life -- were for him in the run-up to a general election.

He responded: "Given that they are both completely wrong, and that you can almost laugh them off, they are so ridiculous."

The row has been sparked by claims made in a book by political commentator Andrew Rawnsley titled 'The End Of The Party'. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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