Brown accepts invitation to speak at Murdoch jamboree

Click to follow
The Independent Online
RUPERT MURDOCH has invited Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to speak at his News Corp conference in Idaho next month, re-establishing warm relations after The Sun's attack on Tony Blair over the euro.

Mr Brown's invitation was made and accepted last week, at the same time as Mr Murdoch's biggest-selling tabloid in this country attacked the Prime Minister as the "most dangerous man in Britain" for moving towards entry to the European single currency.

That policy is being driven by the Chancellor and the convention in a conference centre at a ski resort will give Mr Murdoch a first-hand opportunity to hear Mr Brown expound his reasons for refusing to rule out Britain's entry.

Relations between Mr Blair and Mr Murdoch have continued to cause controversy in this country since Mr Blair's speech to the last News Corp convention two years ago on Hayman Island in Australia, laying the foundations which led to The Sun backing Labour at the last election.

"It is not a matter of persuading Murdoch. Clearly he doesn't agree with us but we are not going to change our policy because of what he says," said a Treasury source.

"The Chancellor will be speaking on the British economy and the European economy. Obviously, he will refer to the single currency. We are putting forward the position of the British Government."

That message will be reinforced by Tony Blair in a speech in Frankfurt tomorrow at the inauguration of the European Central Bank. In remarks which may be seen as a further warming towards entry, Mr Blair will tell European bankers that Britain must prepare for the euro.

"He will refer back to the Chancellor's statement last year but what has changed since then is that the euro is happening on time. It is going to have a profound effect on the European community so we have to prepare for it," said a Downing Street source.

Mr Blair last met Mr Murdoch at the funeral of Sir David English, chairman of Associated Newspapers including The Daily Mail, but was not told about The Sun's plans to attack his support for the euro. Sun staff insisted last week that it was not sanctioned by Mr Murdoch, and there were reports that Mr Murdoch expressed disapproval over the personalised criticism of Mr Blair.

The Idaho convention will be an opportunity for Mr Murdoch and his senior executives - predominantly from California, where he has his television and film empire, and Australia - to give Mr Brown a taste of their Euro- scepticism.

But it will also be a testing time for News Corp executives. "It is very much a kind of hot-house affair. You are on campus for the whole time. They mark you according to which film you see, or what you choose to do in your spare time for your future in News Corp," said one former Murdoch executive.

Comments