Brown seizes his chance over yachtgate

Gordon Brown has called for an official investigation into George Osborne's dealings with a Russian billionaire and his motive may be revenge.

For months the Prime Minister has suffered barbed insults about his personality from George Osborne, the shadow chancellor.

In the Commons today, Mr Brown finally got his own back. Right at the end of prime minister's questions he said the "yachtgate" allegations that Mr Osborne solicited an illegal donation from a Russian oligarch were "serious" and merited an official investigation.

Even though there is no sign of any criminal offence being committed - the Conservatives decided not to accept the donation and no money changed hands - Mr Brown knew his intervention would pile the pressure on the Tories.

It kept the Tory donations row high up in the headlines, particularly on a day when the Prime Minister finally admitted what economists have been saying for weeks - that recession has arrived.

Mr Brown could not resist the temptation to take Mr Osborne down a peg or two in front of delighted Labour MPs.

Unlike Lord Mandelson, who is happy to rub shoulders with senior Tories at gatherings of the rich and powerful, the Prime Minister has a visceral, tribal dislike of Conservatives.

And David Cameron and George Osborne are the two Conservatives he probably dislikes most of all, partly because he regards them as "Tory toffs" who adopt a patronising attitude towards him.

Mr Osborne has made no secret of the fact that he believes Mr Brown is a dysfunctional politician, deeply flawed personally and unable to extend even the normal political courtesies to his political opponents.

He claimed that when they shadowed each other across the despatch box - before Tony Blair quit as Prime Minister - Mr Brown refused to talk to him.

Relations reached rock bottom when Mr Osborne refused to pair off with Mr Brown for an important Commons vote in late 2005. Mr Brown slammed the phone down - and was forced to cut an overseas trip short and fly home to vote.

Mr Osborne has described Mr Brown as "weak", "brutal", "unpleasant", "a phoney" and "a failure" and was rebuked in the Commons for declaring that "Brown will make an effing awful Prime Minister". He was even criticised by a charity for appearing to suggest Mr Brown could be "faintly autistic".

Having suffered months of turmoil and humiliation over Labour's "loans for peerages" scandal - which eventually fizzled out without any charges - Mr Brown clearly wants the Conservatives to suffer too.

But despite a clutch of Labour donors donning ermine, Scotland Yard's finest could not uncover sufficient evidence to stand up in court. It is questionable whether they would want to start delving into what was or was not said in private gatherings in a villa on Corfu and a luxury yacht moored offshore.

Nor is Lord Mandelson likely to relish the prospect of an official inquiry. It would throw the spotlight on his friendship with the billionaire aluminium oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who is at the centre of the controversy.

Tony Wright, Labour chairman of the public administration select committee - which probed the cash for honours affair - today dismissed calls for an investigation.

There had not been any corruption or law breaking. But there had been a "massive misjudgment" by Mr Osborne, who should have walked away immediately there was any suggestion of a political donation from Mr Deripaska, he said.

And Mr Osborne had broken the rules of the club of the rich and powerful by leaking details of Mr Mandelson's private comments about Gordon Brown as well as his contacts with the Russian tycoon.

Dr Wright told the Press Association Mr Osborne had received his "comeuppance". The lesson of the affair was "don't mess with Mandy".

Once a Tory high flyer, lauded by his party for the tax promises which panicked Mr Brown into dropping plans for a snap general election last year, Mr Osborne is now badly wounded. Mr Cameron is standing by him - but his credibility has been damaged.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?