Brown faces calls to quit over F1 cash admission

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Gordon Brown was under increasing pressure today with the Conservatives demanding his resignation following allegations that he lied about a £1m donation to the Labour Party from the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Gordon Brown was under increasing pressure today with the Conservatives demanding his resignation following allegations that he lied about a £1m donation to the Labour Party from the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

As the Government braced itself for further damaging revelations, this time from Geoffrey Robinson after the former Treasury minister signed a £250,000 newspaper serialisation contract for his forthcoming book, Labour attempted to brush off the claims that the Chancellor and Tony Blair had misled the public over the Ecclestone gift before the last general election.

However, officials were forced to concede that Mr Brown had been aware of the donation when he gave a radio interview in 1997 in which he appeared to deny any knowledge of it. His spokesman admitted that he did discuss the gift with Mr Blair three days before the interview.

Michael Portillo, the Shadow Chancellor, claimed Mr Brown's position was now untenable and that he should stand down as a "matter of honour".

"You cannot have a Chancellor of the Exchequer whose word is not his bond," he said.

Mr Robinson's deal with the Daily Mail added a new twist to allegations in the newspaper yesterday that Mr Blair and Mr Brown both lied in an attempt to cover up the Ecclestone donation.

The paper published an extract from Servants of the People, a new book by the political commentator Andrew Rawnsley which alleged the Prime Minister "slid into mendacity" in a television interview when he was questioned about the affair.

It claimed Mr Brown lied during a Radio 4 interview when he was asked whether Mr Ecclestone had made a donation to the party and he replied: "I've not been told and I certainly don't know what the truth is." According to the book, the Chancellor expressed concern about the true position.

Downing Street insisted Mr Blair had answered all the questions raised by the book when the controversy erupted three years ago, when he was accused of changing the Government's policy on tobacco sponsorship of sport because of the donation.

His spokesman said that it would have been "completely inappropriate" for Mr Brown to have discussed it in the radio interview. The spokesman refused to say whether Mr Brown knew at that time how much Mr Ecclestone had contributed. "He knew the issue was a large corporate donation but he didn't know the full details," he said.

"The allegations made in Andrew Rawnsley's book are completely untrue and based on unsubstantiated gossip. Mr Brown categorically denies having lied," the spokesman said.

However, he confirmed that Mr Brown and Mr Blair had discussed the loan the Friday before the interview as they travelled back from an Anglo-French summit at Canary Wharf. It was then that they agreed to seek the advice of Lord Neill, chairman of the

The Unconventional Minister, which will appear in the Daily Mail next month, will give Mr Robinson's version of the £373,000 home loan he gave to Peter Mandelson, the Northern Ireland Secretary, which provoked the resignation of both men from the Government in 1998.

Mr Blair's aides are worried because they believe it is unlikely Mr Robinson would have secured such a lucrative deal with the Tory-supporting newspaper unless his book included damaging disclosures.

In his book, the millionaire Mr Robinson is expected to claim that Mr Mandelson asked him for the loan to help him buy a £475,000 house in London's Notting Hill, denying claims that he offered to help.

The former paymastergeneral is thought unlikely to want to damage his close ally Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, despite claims in another book that he urged Mr Blair to sack Mr Robinson because he had become an "embarrassment".

But Mr Blair's aides are worried that Mr Robinson's book may include material which harms the Prime Minister. One potential area of embarrassment is whether Mr Blair knew about the Mandelson loan. He has always denied any knowledge, but it emerged at the weekend that Lord Falconer of Thoroton, a close friend of Mr Blair, knew about the £373,000 payment.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the new claims were "outrageous".

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