Downing Street reveals Britain's worst-kept secret: where Tony Blair has gone on holiday

The waiting political reporters were solemnly told the restricted information, which hitherto had spawned pages of speculation, minor intrigue and even a spot-the-ball style quiz. The Prime Minister and his family are sunning themselves on the Caribbean island of Barbados.

A No 10 spokeswoman ended the suspense a fortnight after Mr Blair triggered a wave of criticism by flying off on holiday during security alerts in the aftermath of attacks on the London transport network.

Last month David Hill, the Prime Minister's director of communications, wrote to editors requesting that details of the Blairs' holiday arrangements not be published until his return to Britain, because of security fears.

But Mr Hill lifted his request on Sunday evening, after Mr Blair accepted an invitation from Second World War veterans on the island to attend a commemoration service marking the islanders' contribution to the war.

Mr Hill wrote: "The Prime Minister has accepted the invitation and will attend along with the Prime Minister of Barbados and representatives of the US, Canadian and French governments. As this will be a public event, his protection team accept the location of the holiday will be reported."

The Downing Street spokeswoman added that she did not know how the veterans twigged that Mr Blair was in town. She said: "I don't know how the Barbados Legion knew he was there, but you can imagine it is a small place and obviously people got to know that he's there."

Yesterday, a sober-suited Mr Blair was pictured with his wife, Cherie, at the VJ Day service, before taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony.

Downing Street has refused to confirm where Mr Blair is staying on the island, despite hints in newspapers that his host was a "confirmed bachelor boy". The spokeswoman said No 10 continued "to request restraint in publicising the exact location of the Prime Minister's holiday".

In the past the Blairs have stayed at the six-bedroom Barbados home of the singer Sir Cliff Richard.

Mr Blair's absence from Britain has been criticised, first as ministers departed amid Britain's biggest police operation in the wake of the London bomb attacks, and then when he declined to fly home for the funeral of the former foreign secretary Robin Cook and the VJ Day commemoration on Sunday.

But in the meantime, the mystery of his whereabouts has become a minor national game, and the secrecy has failed to prevent a stream of stories about his weight, choice of swimwear and holiday wardrobe.

Newspaper readers have been treated to front-page pictures of the Prime Minister and his wife swimming in unspecified exotic seas. Mr Blair was even shown sporting a Hawaiian shirt with a knotted handkerchief on his head, prompting Madame Tussauds to dress their waxwork of Mr Blair in holiday garb to suit.

During his trip away, Fleet Street has been speculating about the holiday location. Two days after Mr Blair departed for his vacation, The Daily Telegraph published a "Postcard from Tony in Chiantishire", while Sky News angered No 10 by blurting out his holiday destination on air.

The Daily Mail ran two pages of possible locations for the trip, ranging from Afghanistan to Ibiza. The Sun reported that Mr Blair, who visited Barbados last year, was in the Caribbean, then published a "Spot the Blair" competition, offering a free holiday to the reader who correctly guessed where the Blairs were staying.

Downing Street declined to say when the Prime Minister would return to Britain from his holiday. But the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, who had a short break in Majorca earlier this summer, has said that Mr Blair is expected back by the end of the month.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Your picture is everything in the shallow world of online dating
i100
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Life and Style
Attractive women on the Internet: not a myth
techOkCupid boasts about Facebook-style experiments on users
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Electrical Technician

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Urgent requirement for Electrical Techni...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on