30 pieces of silver
The Times suggests that, despite Mr Blair's assertions that there could be no deal over the premiership, he was ready to give up his job if Mr Brown granted him the chance to confirm Britain's destiny in Europe. The assumption among colleagues was that Mr Blair had promised Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder he would try to join the eurozone. The disclosure also indicates that Mr Blair regarded the five tests as something of a sham, and within the Chancellor's power to deliver.
The story is obviously to Brown's credit in that he is claiming he wouldn't sell out Britain for his own personal ambition. And the shocking thing is that it doesn't seem to be big news or unbelievable that Tony would act in such a traitorous way - obviously he wants to be President of Europe more than he cares about Britain.
TONY BLAIR was so anxious to take Britain into the euro that he told Gordon Brown he would stand down during his second term if the Chancellor would pave the way to a referendum.
He suggested to Mr Brown and ministers close to the Chancellor that he would be ready to leave No 10 if Mr Brown concluded that the terms for entry to the euro had been met in the assessment of the five economic tests.
The Times has been told that the idea of a deal was first raised by an emissary from Mr Blair at a meeting with a close Brown confidant as long ago as December 11, 2001, in the hope that it would enable a referendum in the spring of last year.
Former ministers say that it was then discussed by Mr Blair and Mr Brown at a dinner held at Mr Blair’s request in Downing Street a week later on December 18, 2001.
Mr Brown rejected the proposal on the ground that such an important decision should not be governed by personal ambitions but by economic factors, informed sources say.
But Mr Blair was still pushing the idea through intermediaries in the autumn of 2002.
According to extracts of her diary disclosed by The Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, Clare Short told Mr Brown in September 2002 that Mr Blair wanted to go into the euro but did not want a third term.
The entry stated: “I had discussion with GB and said Iraq would divide Government . . . I told him TB also said we must go into euro before election and still meant what he said on trip to West Africa about not wanting a third term.”
She recorded that Mr Brown was doubtful about whether Britain would be ready to sign up. “GB said he would think and get back, but on the euro it would take some time to converge the economy.”
The diary note was written after a conversation with the Prime Minister. The West Africa trip was undertaken by Mr Blair and Ms Short in early 2002 when the Prime Minister was believed to have told her that he did not want to go on for a third term.
But the disclosure to The Times shows he was talking of an agreement two months earlier, illustrating how ambitious he was to take Britain into the euro and how far he was prepared to go to achieve this goal.
It has been revealed recently that Mr Blair had discussed standing down this year at the Admiralty Arch summit with Mr Brown and John Prescott, which was held last November. He had also discussed “preannouncing” it with Mr Brown in the spring, before telling Mr Brown only in July that he had decided to stay on because he had been cleared by the Butler report and the Conservatives remained weak.
Since then he has announced that he will stand for a third term but leave before a fourth election. After denying that there had been an agreement at the Admiralty Arch meeting, Blairite sources have since confirmed it, saying that Mr Blair had reneged on the deal because Mr Brown had failed to back him on key issues.
Informed sources say that when Mr Brown was first approached over a political deal on the euro, he told the Prime Minister that the idea should not be countenanced.
He is reported to have said that the euro decision would have to be based on the national interest as determined by the five economic tests for entry and not on either his or Mr Blair’s personal hopes. It could not be the subject of political bargaining. But Mr Blair pressed the idea in the early months of 2002 and asked at least two Cabinet ministers to raise it with the Chancellor.
According to insiders involved in the preliminary discussions, the message from No 10 was that the Prime Minister did not intend to go on indefinitely and that he was prepared to go before the next election, provided that the euro terms were met and there was a referendum in the spring of 2003.
Mr Brown was insistent that the euro tests could never be seen to have been a subject for political bargaining.
Further approaches were made to Mr Brown from Mr Blair’s supporters, including Cabinet ministers, in 2003 as Mr Brown prepared to make his assessment on euro entry.
The disclosure to The Times suggests that, despite Mr Blair’s assertions that there could be no deal over the premiership, he was ready to give up his job if Mr Brown granted him the chance to confirm Britain’s destiny in Europe. The assumption among colleagues was that Mr Blair had promised Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder he would try to join the eurozone. The disclosure also indicates that Mr Blair regarded the five tests as something of a sham, and within the Chancellor’s power to deliver.