Blair tells beleaguered Prescott: 'We leave office at the same time'

Tony Blair has privately told John Prescott that they are "linked" and will go together when the Prime Minister decides to step down.

Mr Blair made it clear during a conversation in recent days he did not want the Deputy Prime Minister to resign in spite of the pressure on him from some Labour MPs for keeping his "perks" and his £133,000 salary while losing his Whitehall department.

"I am not going to give in to the media campaign," Mr Prescott told The Independent. "I am not going to resign. I am going to get on with my job."

Mr Prescott has discussed with a close circle of friends the possibility of giving up Dorneywood, his grace-and-favour home, to end the damaging attacks on him. However, he has ruled out the option, saying it would open him to "salami slicing" by his critics, who would then call for other "perks", such as his ministerial flat in Admiralty House, to be given up.

Mr Blair, who has left Mr Prescott in charge of the Government while he is on holiday in Italy, authorised Downing Street to issue a statement yesterday giving total backing to Mr Prescott. Downing Street said the Prime Minister had "absolute full confidence" in his deputy. A spokeswoman said: "They stay in contact regularly."

No 10 released details of Mr Prescott's diary for the week to underline his workload in Mr Blair's absence.

It said he was chairing meetings with officials, including discussions with the Department for International Development on how to respond to the Indonesian earthquake. Mr Prescott later visited the Indonesian Embassy to sign a book of condolence for its victims.

Later this week the Deputy Prime Minister will visit a drug rehabilitation project and will represent the Government in a discussion at the British Irish Council on climate change. At the weekend, he will fly to Canada for a conference on the environment.

The Labour MP Glenda Jackson, a former minister in Mr Prescott's department, also came to his aid by rebutting calls by other female Labour MPs for him to resign because of his affair with his diary secretary.

"I find it incredibly patronising to be told that women choose to cast their votes based exclusively on the private life of male MPs," Ms Jackson said. "There is no one who has worked harder for the Labour Party and the Blair Government than John Prescott."

Mr Prescott said the renewed storm over his cabinet role was started because of the campaigns being mounted at Westminster to succeed him. He said he understood potential candidates jockeying for position because he had done the same when he won the deputy leadership.

There is a belief at Westminster that Mr Blair will step down early next year. Canvassing has started among Labour MPs for support for a number of ministers who are believed to be ready to run for the deputy leadership, including Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, Peter Hain and Jack Straw.

Some Blairites fear that if Mr Prescott stood down before Mr Blair it would trigger in-fighting between Brownites and Blairites. However, the Brown camp suspect that some in Downing Street have been trying to force Mr Prescott to quit to refresh the Government with a new deputy and buy Mr Blair more time.

The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, acknowledged that Mr Prescott had been "damaged" by the exposure of his affair, but backed him to stay.

However, Labour backbench critics kept up the pressure for him to go. Ian Gibson, a Labour MP, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the photographs of Mr Prescott playing croquet at Dorneywood did "not amount to that much". He added: "What matters to the person in the street is what he is doing, what is his job. He has all the fringe benefits and so on but it's not clear what his position is. That's what makes people cynical about politics and John in particular."

Mr Prescott faced further embarrassment over the publication of the staff handbook from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It warns against "improper" conduct during work hours. His former diary secretary, Tracey Temple, has claimed their affair was carried out in his office and grace-and-favour flat in Admiralty House, Whitehall.

Caroline Spelman, the shadow local government minister, said: "Perhaps if John Prescott had read the rule book, he wouldn't be where he is now."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape