'You ruined my life', Blair told in fit of rage

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Gordon Brown told Tony Blair "you ruined my life" in a fierce showdown between the two men shortly before the former Prime Minister agreed to stand down, according to the latest allegations to emerge from a book about New Labour.

The fresh revelations from The End of the Party, by Andrew Rawnsley, document the exchange that saw the tense relationship between the pair reach its lowest ebb. It also suggests that during the confrontation in September 2006, Mr Brown demanded that Mr Blair step down and ensure he be allowed to take over unopposed but that the then Prime Minister retorted that he was unable to deliver on such a pledge.

During their final two-hour confrontation on the issue, the book states that Mr Brown asked Mr Blair: "Who do you think is better than me? Do you think there is anyone who is better than me?" John Reid was "far too rightwing". Alan Johnson was "a lightweight". David Miliband was too young. Was Blair saying, Brown demanded, that any of them was "better qualified to become PM?" It adds that Mr Blair later revealed that the exchanges had been "terrible", saying: "He kept shouting at me that I'd ruined his life."

It also alleges that Ed Balls, now the Schools Secretary and a key ally of Mr Brown, was the main force behind the coup to topple Mr Blair in the Autumn of 2006. Mr Rawnsley alleges that Mr Balls pushed Mr Brown to seize the leadership. "Blair is never going to go," Mr Balls is alleged to have told Mr Brown. "He has to be pushed. You mustn't be weak." A spokesman for Mr Balls denied the allegations. "Mr Balls had always advised Mr Brown to stay out of any 'move to oust' Mr Blair," he said.

On another occasion Mr Brown was driven into an enraged rant by a newspaper article written by Alan Milburn in support of Mr Blair remaining in power. After hearing the Chancellor out the Prime Minister read the article and called Mr Milburn to say how good it was.