Brown kept policy details from Blair

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Gordon Brown kept Tony Blair in the dark about details of tax and public spending policies, even ordering treasury officials not to share information with the Prime Minister's staff, according to a new book by a former Downing Street adviser.

Gordon Brown kept Tony Blair in the dark about details of tax and public spending policies, even ordering treasury officials not to share information with the Prime Minister's staff, according to a new book by a former Downing Street adviser.

Derek Scott, who was Mr Blair's economic adviser for nine years, gives details of fruitless attempts by the Prime Minister or his officials to find out what was going on next door in No 11.

A month before Brown was due to deliver his 1998 budget, Blair inquired about what it would contain, only to be told: "I haven't made my mind up yet." Mr Scott added: "The Prime Minister, leaning forward and upward from the couch on which he was sitting, eyebrows raised with a disarming smile and head tipping slightly from side to side in the manner portrayed by Rory Bremner, simply said, 'Give us a hint, Gordon'. Soon after that the meeting broke up as no one from No 10 could keep a straight face."

In an extract from his book, in today's Sunday Times, Mr Scott also describes a confrontation in which he and the Prime Minister were faced by Brown, seven treasury officials and Andrew Smith, the Brown supporter who resigned last week as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

The meeting was supposed to sort out details of a green paper on pensions, but left numerous details unresolved. Mr Scott later went to the Treasury for more information but "when I went to this meeting I was told by the official chairing it that he had been instructed by his political masters not to disclose anything or answer any question."

Mr Scott's book, Off Whitehall, attracted controversy earlier this year when it was revealed that it was ready for publication.

It provoked a furious statement from Mr Brown, and Downing Street also disowned the book.

Mr Scott is sharply critical of Mr Blair, accusing him of "wanting to be liked and a natural actor" and of being more interested in his media strategy than in the detailed implications of policies.

"It took a very long time for Tony to wake up to the future public expenditure implications of the Chancellor's extensive programme of tax credits, despite warnings from me and other advisers."

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