Exclusive: Prescott tells Blair: Name the day

The Deputy Prime Minister wants Mr Blair to announce a firm timetable for his departure at the Labour Party conference in a year's time. He hopes that would enable Gordon Brown to take over in the spring or summer of 2007.

Mr Prescott warned Mr Blair that the Labour Party would not tolerate him staying in No 10 without making clear when he will stand down.

The revelation came as party members gathering in Brighton for this year's conference focused on the uncertainty over the timing of Mr Blair's departure from Downing Street.

As allies of the Chancellor urged the Prime Minister to set out a timetable for his plans to step down, Mr Blair in a television interview yesterday refused to divulge details of his departure.

Mr Prescott's warning is revealed in a biography of the Deputy Prime Minister by Colin Brown, The Independent's Deputy Political Editor. It discloses Mr Prescott's anxiety about Mr Blair's intention to serve a "full term" after he won his third election in May, even though he had promised to quit before the next election.

He warned that if Mr Blair prevaricated until the autumn of 2008 Mr Brown could be left with little more than six months as Prime Minister to prepare for the next general election in the spring of 2009.

The book says: "Prescott forcefully relayed the message to Blair that he did not think the party would allow him to carry on, regardless of the election result, for another three or more years."

Allies of the Chancellor confirmed yesterday that they want Mr Blair to announce a timetable by next year's conference to give Mr Brown time to establish himself as Prime Minister before the next general election.

Today Mr Brown will maintain a public truce with Mr Blair by promising that he would not abandon "New Labour" or vacate the political centre ground if he succeeds him.

But some Blair aides continue to hint that he intends to continueon until 2008 in an attempt to complete his public service reforms and cement his political legacy. Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, told GMTV's Sunday programme that Mr Blair could remain in Downing Street until 2008 or 2009. But that would provoke a new rift with Mr Brown.

In an interview with The Independent, Ed Balls, the Labour MP and one of the Chancellor's closest allies, questioned whether Mr Blair was now the right man for the job of renewing the party so that it could address the long-term challenges facing Britain.

He said: "The Labour Party has got to decide what we need to do in relation to long-term policy decisions. That is the issue, not individual ambition or legacies. That is to belittle the challenges and the changes to the party required to meet those challenges".

Although some Blairite cabinet ministers have anointed Mr Brown as Mr Blair's successor in recent days, the Brown camp suspects that the move is designed in part to ensure that the Chancellor allows the Prime Minister more time in Downing Street. Mr Balls said: "The issue is going to be decided by the Labour Party and is not going to be decided by MPs, however junior, and cabinet ministers, however senior. But the party must focus also on how we meet the challenges for the longer term."

In a BBC television interview yesterday, Mr Blair refused to reveal his plans, saying he had not yet make up his mind when he wanted to leave No 10. But he hinted that he will announce a timetable in due course.

The Prime Minister said: "I've spoken about this as much as I want to speak at the moment. There will come a point in time when I'm delighted to speak about it but for the moment I think, you know, we've just won a third election victory, we should concentrate on setting out the agenda for the country."

The biography of Mr Prescott says that tensions between Mr Blair and Mr Brown could reopen if the Chancellor's desire to take over in good time before the next election is frustrated. It quotes a Brown supporter as saying: "[The Blair camp] want to be reasonable, and that is the case at the moment. If that changes, then our attitude will change."

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit