Prescott tells Labour rebels to 'shut up' for the summer

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Indy Politics

John Prescott bluntly told Labour's backbench critics yesterday to shut up and stop attacking Tony Blair.

The Deputy Prime Minister told rebel MPs: "For God's sake, can you shut up for the summer and let me get on with my job." In an unprompted outburst during an interview on BBC Radio 4, he said: "Can I say to some of my colleagues: can we start thinking long and hard a bit about what we are doing?

"Fine, this is the Labour Party, we can continue to be critical about things. If they want to make the criticisms, make the criticisms. But for God's sake, talk up what we have done. We've got a damn good record."

Mr Prescott will be in charge of the Government while Mr Blair holidays in Barbados, despite speculation that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, would take over.

Hesaid: "I've always been one for putting it straight ... My complaint now is the spinning's now gone on to the negative extent of government."

But within hours, Glenda Jackson, a former transport minister, restated her criticism of the Government. "I did not campaign in the 2001 election on a manifesto that committed this country to a pre-emptive strike on Iraq or the creation of foundation hospitals," she said. "And I was categoric, based on the manifesto ... that there would be no increase [in] university tuition fees."