The Granita note: Brown's price for conceding leadership to Blair

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown demanded a guarantee from Tony Blair that he would pursue a "fairness agenda" in return for a free run at the Labour leadership, the first written record of their negotiations following the death of the former leader John Smith revealed last night.

Mr Brown agreed to step aside for his friend and rival after their famous dinner at the Granita restaurant in Islington, London, in 1994. Although speculation over the detail of their deal has raged since then, no written proof of the pact had emerged until last night.

The document shows that Mr Brown insisted on a "fairness agenda" focusing on "social justice, employment opportunities and skills" when Labour won power. He made clear his determination to assert his authority over a sweep of social and economic policy.

The six-paragraph record of their negotiations reveals that Mr Blair had said he was "in full agreement" with the Chancellor's agenda. But Mr Brown personally crossed out the phrase, substituting the words "has guaranteed this will be pursued".

The document makes no reference to whether, or when, Mr Blair would quit as Labour leader and Prime Minister in favour of Mr Brown. But, in embryonic form, it lays out the course that the Labour Government was to take, with Mr Brown as the most powerful Chancellor in living memory. Much of the "fairness agenda" has come about, with Mr Brown championing tax credits for low-income families, the New Deal to cut youth unemployment, the national minimum wage and the child trust.

The typed note, printed in a national newspaper, emerged as the Cabinet agreed its position yesterday on Britain's membership of the single currency. Mr Brown's Commons statement on the subject on Monday is expected to reinforce his personal control of the policy.

The note appears to have been prepared by Peter Mandelson at his home in Hartlepool the day after Mr Blair and Mr Brown dined at Granita. It went through several drafts as they demanded changes over the direction of what was to become New Labour.

* Lord Irvine of Lairg is expected to stand down as Lord Chancellor within weeks. He could resign as part of a Whitehall shake-up that would create a Ministry of Justice taking responsibilities from the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Home Office.