Politics: Labour rushes to fix Brown-Blair rift after 'infantile' leaks

Peter Mandelson yesterday pulled out of a BBC radio interview to avoid questions about relations between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. Colin Brown, Chief Political Correspondent, says Norman Lamont warned they would have to 'cool it' or risk real damage.

A concerted effort was made by ministers and "spin doctors" yesterday to end the speculation of a rift between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair as it threatened to run out of control. and inflict damage at the heart of the Government.

Mr Brown, who was in Brussels for an important European Union meeting, brushed aside questions about the alleged rift saying he would not be diverted from the serious business of government.

Peter Mandelson, the minister without portfolio, refused to go on the BBC lunchtime news when it became clear he would be interviewed about the relationship between Mr Blair and Mr Brown.

After a weekend in which Mr Brown's friends were accused of "letting their egos run away with them", Mr Blair's official spokesman dismissed the reports as "silly" and said: "That doesn't diminish or change the Prime Minister's view of the Chancellor - that he is an extremely excellent Chancellor for whom he has immense regard professionally and personally."

The message last night was that the two men remain close, in spite of the reports. The spokesman also described as "shallow" the Brown biography by Paul Routledge, the political correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, which sparked the controversy.

Behind the denials lies a real fear that unless it is stopped now, there could be real damage done to the relationship which lies at the core of the Government.

Norman Lamont, the former Tory Chancellor, who had similar experiences with John Major, said: "This is largely exaggerated. It is a little local difficulty but if people go on talking it up, and taking pot shots at each other, it will become real. They have to cool it."

Downing Street compared the reports of the rift, allegedly over Mr Brown's grudge about being outmanoeuvred by Mr Blair for the leadership, with the "flavour of the week" speculation about Robin Cook, and his affair with his secretary; and about Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, and how his son was cautioned for allegedly supplying cannabis.

At times over the weekend, the clash seemed to be more between the spokesmen for the two camps - Charley Whelan, the Chancellor's aide, and Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's press secretary - rather than between Mr Blair and Mr Brown.

Bob Marshall-Andrews, the Labour MP for Medway, said last night that suggestions that the Chancellor might be psychologically impaired were "puerile". Asked on Radio 4's PM programme about leaks in newspapers which have been sourced to Downing Street he said: "It is so depressingly infantile to brief against your senior colleagues or any of your colleagues in this way. And to start suggesting they are psychologically or mentally impaired is puerile.

"We think we know where it is coming from. It may very well be the usual unelected suspects. But at the end of the day the Prime Minister appoints these people and employs them and he has got to sort them out."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam