Labour turmoil: Brown's ever-decreasing inner circle

THE DEPARTURE of Charlie Whelan removes another key player from the inner circle of Gordon Brown, whose powerbase has been progressively weakened by Tony Blair.

The Chancellor has now seen three of his closest allies moved from their jobs. Against his wishes, Mr Blair moved Nick Brown from the pivotal job of Chief Whip to Minister of Agriculture last July.

Last month, Geoffrey Robinson - the Treasury minister closest to Mr Brown and regarded by the Chancellor as his "wise uncle" - was forced to resign after a series of allegations over his business career before he became Paymaster-General.

Now Mr Brown is to part company with the press secretary who has assiduously - and sometimes over-zealously - reshaped and built up his image for the past five years.

Mr Brown may have finally judged that his spin-doctor's continued presence might have stretched relations with the Prime Minister to breaking point.

Mr Blair was justifiably irritated that "Mr Brown's allies" - presumed to be Mr Whelan - described the Chancellor as the managing director who ran the Government and Mr Blair as the non-executive chairman, a kind of smiling front man.

A member of the Blair camp said yesterday: "There can only ever be one Prime Minister. Gordon has got to learn that."

Now ministers hope Mr Whelan's departure will enable Mr Blair and Mr Brown to draw a line under their past differences, which stem from Mr Brown's disappointment that Mr Blair became Labour leader after John Smith died in 1994. They also believe it will be easier for Mr Brown to achieve a long-promised reconciliation with Mr Mandelson, whom he has not forgiven for backing Mr Blair in 1994.

"Gordon makes enemies; he always seems to want to give people a bloody nose," said a cabinet minister. With Mr Whelan no longer on the scene, ministers say they will find out how much of the Brown camp's aggression was due to the spin-doctor's style and how much he was merely acting on his master's orders.

Mr Blair's allies want Mr Brown to cement his relationship with the Prime Minister rather than build on his alliance with John Prescott, after their agreement to reassert traditional Labour values since Mr Mandelson's departure. "He has much more in common with Tony than Prescott," said one insider.

Friends insist Mr Brown will prove a loyal and dependable Chancellor, and can become one of the most successful this century.

Mr Blair and Mr Brown are well aware of the dangers to both of them: Baroness Thatcher's allies believe she never recovered from the resignation of Nigel Lawson as Chancellor after a series of battles between No 10 and No 11. A year later, she was forced out.

So Mr Blair and Mr Brown have every incentive to draw a line under the destabilising events of recent weeks. "Their relationship is either the rock on which the Government is built, or the rock into which the whole enterprise is shipwrecked," said an ally of Mr Brown.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore