Brown allies are out to destroy me, says Mandelson

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Indy Politics

Peter Mandelson accused allies of Gordon Brown of trying to "destroy" his political career yesterday as Geoffrey Robinson, the former Treasury Minister, blamed Mr Mandelson for the cabinet's divisions over Europe.

Peter Mandelson accused allies of Gordon Brown of trying to "destroy" his political career yesterday as Geoffrey Robinson, the former Treasury Minister, blamed Mr Mandelson for the cabinet's divisions over Europe.

The Northern Ireland Secretary believes Mr Robinson's book is part of a concerted campaign by the Brown camp to portray him as having extreme pro-European views and prevent him achieving his long-standing ambition to become Foreign Secretary.

"This book is not about the past, it is about the future," Mr Mandelson told friends. "It is not about the [£373,00] loan from Geoffrey Robinson. It is about Europe."

Mr Mandelson added: "What they want to do is to make me so controversial and destabilised that I am permanently politically disabled and taken out of the frame on Europe. It is a piece of terrorism."

Mr Mandelson believes Mr Brown's acolytes have formed an alliance with Eurosceptic newspapers, including the Sun and the Daily Mail, which is serialising the Robinson book. "They are trying to smear me personally and destroy me politically. They want to take out a pro-European Cabinet minister," he told friends.

Mr Brown's allies dismissed the claims, saying the Chancellor had urged Mr Robinson not to go ahead with his book. In yesterday's extract, Mr Robinson accused Mr Mandelson of "igniting" and "reigniting" a crisis by pushing his pro-single currency views even though Tony Blair and Mr Brown had agreed a policy on the euro.

Mr Mandelson is expected to escape a new Commons inquiry into his home loan from Mr Robinson. The Standards and Privileges Committee will meet next week to discuss Tory demands to reopen its investigation, but is likely to conclude that the Robinson book does not include enough new material to warrant a new inquiry.

Yesterday Mr Robinson stuck to his claim that he gave money to Mr Blair's private office while he was Leader of the Opposition. A year ago, the trustees of the blind trust which funded the office gave the impression he was not a donor by denying that Mr Robinson donated to the fund.

Mr Robinson conceded that his payments, believed to be £250,000, were probably paid into Labour's general funds and then transferred to Mr Blair's office. "If the funds went in some other way via the Labour Party itself, what is the difference?" he told BBC Radio 4. "I was a supporter of the office, a contributor to the office and that's all there is to it."

Clive Soley, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said Mr Robinson was wrong to write his book and demanded an end to the "petty squabbling" amongst the party's factions which made it look like "a poor quality version of EastEnders or Neighbours." He said he was "reading the riot act" because backbenchers were angry that ministers were not.

Downing Street dismissed the "media frenzy" the Robinson memoirs as "blather" which would soon be forgotten. Mr Blair added: "Whatever the froth of the day to day, the only thing that matters to people are the fundamentals."

But William Hague, the Tory leader, said members of the Government were acting like "rats in a sack" because of deep divisions and personal hatreds. He told a Carlton Club meeting that Mr Mandelson had become the "living embodiment" of a Government "permanently stained by infighting, deceit, spin and cronyism".

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