Blair isolated on Iraq conflict as Berlusconi bows out
Wednesday 12 April 2006
The defeat of Silvio Berlusconi has left Tony Blair isolated in Europe as the last political leader supporting the war in Iraq.
Mr Berlusconi had been the only ally of Mr Blair and President George Bush in Europe after Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, was defeated in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings in March 2004. Mr Blair is likely to put a brave face on the defeat, although many will see it as a further nail in his own political coffin. However, he knows Mr Berlusconi's successor Romano Prodi from his time as the European Commission president.
The close relationship between Mr Blair and the Italian media mogul has mystified Labour MPs, who privately say the Blairs were dazzled by wealth. The election result is also likely to bring the curtain down on the free holidays the Blairs enjoyed at Mr Berlusconi's villa in Sardinia.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera dubbed the Blairs "The Sultans of Bling" after Mr Blair declared receiving watches, earrings, a necklace, a ring and a bracelet from Mr Berlusconi.
However, it was David Mills, husband of the cabinet minister Tessa Jowell and a corporate lawyer who acted for Mr Berlusconi, who has caused Mr Blair most trouble. Mr Mills is still facing the possibility of charges with Mr Berlusconi over corruption, and Ms Jowell announced that she was separating from her husband as the calls for her resignation mounted.
Ms Jowell, one of Mr Blair's closest allies in the Cabinet, survived, but Mr Blair became mired with the sleaze allegations surrounding Mr Mills and Mr Berlusconi's financial deals.
For Mr Mills, who is accused of accepting a £350,000 bribe from the outgoing Italian Prime Minister, Mr Berlusconi's defeat will provide little comfort.
A judge is due to open a hearing in Milan in June to decide whether the case brought by prosecutors should proceed to trial. It is alleged that the British lawyer was paid in exchange for providing favourable testimony during two previous trials into Mr Berlusconi's business dealings. Both men deny the charges.
Much of Mr Berlusconi's time in office was spent passing laws limiting the time frame in which he could be prosecuted after an alleged offence to 10 years. There were suggestions last night, however, that a new government might seek to change the statute of limitations to enable the trial to reach a conclusion.
Mr Berlusconi and Mr Mills claim to have documents that prove the £350,000 was paid to Mr Mills by another client, Diego Attanasio, a Neapolitan shipowner. However, Mr Attanasio has said he that he was in prison at the time the money was paid.
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete 'cheated on me' with Reeva Steenkamp, former girlfriend Samantha Taylor tells Pretoria court
Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...