Brown allies accuse No 10 of ending truce

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Allies of Gordon Brown accused Tony Blair's supporters yesterday of shattering the truce between the two men amid a dangerous new outbreak of infighting at the top of the Government.

Allies of Gordon Brown accused Tony Blair's supporters yesterday of shattering the truce between the two men amid a dangerous new outbreak of infighting at the top of the Government.

After working closely together for several months, relations between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor were under severe strain after Mr Brown vented his anger about a book due to be published this autumn by Derek Scott, Mr Blair's former economics adviser. The Brown camp wants No 10 to stop the book.

Mr Brown is said by friends to feel betrayed by the Blair camp after supporting Mr Blair when his future was called into question in recent months.

Brown allies have also been upset by suggestions from the Blair camp that the new five-year plans for health, education, transport and the Home Office show that Mr Blair will be Prime Minister for another five years.

Mr Brown, the front-runner to succeed Mr Blair, was incensed when No 10 played down recent remarks by Jonathan Powell, its chief of staff, that the Chancellor's leadership ambitions were a "Shakespearean tragedy" because he would never become prime minister.

"If Ed Balls [Mr Brown's closest aide] had said something like that, Blair would have demanded his sacking," said a leading Brown ally. "No 10 treated it as a joke. We have bent over backwards to be supportive. What do we get in return? Lies and distortions in a book."

Mr Scott's memoirs, Off Whitehall, are said to lift the lid on rows between Mr Blair and Mr Brown over Europe, the Chancellor's Budgets and pensions policy. It suggests that Downing Street regularly caved in to the Treasury.

Yesterday Mr Brown's spokesman said pointedly that questions about the book "should be directed to No 10". Mr Blair's spokeswoman tried to cool the Chancellor's anger by saying that such books were written "to make money and to cause trouble and division".

Insisting Mr Scott's book was "totally unauthorised", she said No 10 had been unaware of it until it was submitted for clearance by Sir Andrew Turnbull, the Cabinet Secretary.

The Government's pivotal relationship reached its lowest ebb last autumn, when Mr Brown outlined what was seen as a distinctive "real Labour" agenda in his speech to the party's annual conference. The Blair camp suspected he was trying to mount a "coup."

But the two agreed a truce after John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, acted as the peacemaker. There is mounting speculation that they have agreed that Mr Blair will quit immediately after the Europe referendum and endorse Mr Brown as his successor.

The Chancellor chaired daily strategy meetings ahead of this month's local and European elections and relations between him and Downing Street appeared to be good. But his simmering frustration about Mr Blair's determination to carry on as Prime Minister may have boiled over when he learnt of Mr Scott's book.

Derek Simpson, general secretary of the Amicus trade union, warned that Mr Blair's policies could threaten Labour's chances at the general election. "If personalities can't divorce themselves from the policies then what is required is a change in the leadership," he said.


By Colin Brown

Derek Scott was a relatively obscure Whitehall figure until he found himself the target of the Chancellor's wrath yesterday.

The former economics adviser to Tony Blair was on the receiving end of a stinging statement, authorised by Gordon Brown, after contents emerged of his book Off Whitehall.

He said he was bemused by the attention his book was receiving. Politicos book shop said it "takes the lid of life in Downing Street", but Mr Scott played down the revelations.

He denied that he was part of any conspiracy. ''It is nonsense. It is a serious book about economics, Europe and politics.

"I have left Number 10 and my views on the euro and the European constitution are not exactly in line with the Prime Minister's."

Mr Scott, who was a partner of the Channel 4 political editor Eleanor Goodman until the break-up of their relationship some years ago, still excites the anger of the old Labour left for standing as an SDP candidate in Swindon in 1983 and 1987. He is blamed by them for allowing the Tories to win the seat.

In December, after leaving his post as Mr Blair's economics adviser, he was appointed economic consultant to KPMG.