Downing Street insisted yesterday that the Prime Minister was not a "fair- weather friend" and would back the President, even though it is possible that the two men will be sitting side by side at the moment the humiliating "trial by television" begins. The four-and-a-half-hour tape shows Mr Clinton being alternately evasive and aggressive. At one point he even quibbles over the precise meaning of the words "the whole truth" in the oath.
Despite this, Mr Blair has already requested a one-to-one meeting with Mr Clinton which will allow him to make his backing clear. Both men are scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly meeting and a televised seminar on the "Third Way" at which Mr Blair will say that strengthening the institution of marriage is key to the centre-left philosophy.
While more than two-thirds of Americans polled said they disapproved of the decision to show the tape, half said they would probably watch, and the audience could be much bigger. Four cable news channels will broadcast it in full immediately after the release tomorrow at 2pm British time. The major networks will show Mr Clinton's opening statement and edited excerpts of the remainder.
Another 2,800 pages of documents, which include most of Ms Lewinsky's detailed testimony, are also expected.
Focus, pages 22 and 23; Leading article, page 28;
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