Prescott in the cold when Bill meets Blair

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The Independent Online
JOHN Prescott, Labour's deputy leader, has been left out in the cold again - he is not on the party's guestlist for a meeting with President Clinton on Wednesday, writes Stephen Castle.

Tony Blair will lead a group including Robin Cook, the shadow Foreign Secretary, Marjorie Mowlam, the shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, plus his chief of staff and press secretary - but not Mr Prescott. The meeting will be at the US Ambassador's London residence.

Labour officials said Mr Prescott was not going because Mr Clinton's deputy, Al Gore, will not be there either. But it will be the second time this year that Mr Prescott has been left out of an important meeting and it is likely to renew mischievous parliamentary speculation about relations between the Labour leader and his deputy.

Earlier this year Mr Prescott was not invited when advisers discussed long-term election strategy. That led to claims that he was being frozen out of the party's inner circle.

Ms Mowlam is attending because of the President's interest in the peace process and his visit to Belfast and Dublin later in the week. Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, will not meet the President despite predictions by some MPs that he would be on the guestlist.

A Labour source said Mr Blair, who has held regular meetings with foreign political leaders, does not like taking large delegations. Labour sources said Mr Prescott had never expected to be invited.

Mr Clinton arrives in London on Wednesday morning. He will address both Houses of Parliament and have tea with the Queen before seeing Mr Blair.

Blair's big guns, page 8

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