Hutton admits saying Brown would be disaster as PM
It was one of the worst-kept secrets in Westminster: which cabinet minister said Gordon Brown would be a "fucking disaster" as prime minister before he had even stepped into 10 Downing Street?
It has taken John Hutton, the former defence secretary, three years and his imminent departure to admit what most in the Commons already knew. The staunch Blairite, who had campaigned for another Labour MP to challenge Mr Brown for the leadership, made the notoriously unflattering prediction of the current Prime Minster's skills in 2006. He was widely suspected of being the source of the comment, given to the BBC, but always met the accusation with a stony silence.
That tactic came to an abrupt end yesterday, though not before he made a final attempt to remain undercover. Initially only admitting that he had "very serious concerns" about Mr Brown's credentials as he refused to be unmasked, he eventually owned up after being pressed repeatedly on whether he was the source. "I did say it," he said. "Yes, I did. Yeah. Let's just get that over with."
Mr Hutton, who is stepping down as the MP for Barrow and Furness at the next election, said that he had made the criticism at a time of "high emotions" when Mr Brown's supporters were attempting to speed up Tony Blair's exit from No 10. He said the campaign to remove the former Prime Minister "reflected very badly" on Mr Brown and his backers. It led him to observe that Mr Brown would be an "absolute fucking disaster" if he ever took over the reins of power.
"I don't think that was really a period of history in our party that anyone of us should look back with any sort of pride about," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. "It was a very, very low point for us. Everyone who was involved in those machinations should hang their heads in shame. I think it was a very miserable period for us."
However, Mr Hutton added that his opinions of Mr Brown had changed since he took over as Prime Minister. "I think he has been a tremendously hard-working man, who has really put his heart and soul into it," he said. "I think he has, and certainly in all of his dealings with me, showed nothing but a great deal of support and help during my time as a minister. So I personally have no criticisms of Gordon's performance as Prime Minister at all."
In an intriguing final remark on the tumultuous period for his party, he said that it would not be long before the events that took place behind the scenes, which led to Mr Blair's departure from Downing Street, became public. "The truth always does."
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
Ten best places to live in the UK: Hart in Hampshire takes top spot
Winter Solstice marks shortest day of the year
Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Paul Walker's daughter Meadow attends Justin Bieber Believe premiere
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- < Previous
- Next >