Blair–Brown deal

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The empty premises of the former Granita restaurant at 127 Upper Street Islington, the alleged location where Blair and Brown made the deal. Pictured in early 2013.

The Blair–Brown deal (or Granita Pact) was an alleged gentlemen's agreement made between the British politicians Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the summer of 1994. It is widely believed the two met in the now-defunct Granita restaurant in Islington, London, following the death of Labour Party leader John Smith on 12 May, and Brown agreed, in return for certain promises, that he would stand aside to allow Blair to become leader of the party, and possible future Prime Minister. The existence of any deal was denied for many years by both Blair and Brown.

Summary[edit]

According to several authors, Gordon Brown agreed not to stand in the 1994 Labour Party leadership election,[1][2] effectively giving Blair a clear run and allowing him to lead Labour into the next UK general election (which was eventually held in 1997, resulting in a landslide victory for Labour). In return, it was agreed that Brown would be granted wide powers over domestic policy in a Blair administration.

Further, according to a widely held belief, Blair also agreed that, if he acceded to the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he would stay in the job for an unspecified but not indefinite period of time. He would then resign and support Brown to follow him as Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister.[3] The Labour Party does not select its leader by allowing the outgoing leader to choose or name a successor, but anticipation of Blair's strong endorsement contributed to Brown being the inevitable successor.

Disputes[edit]

The existence of the deal was publicly dismissed by Blair, Brown and many of their associates for several years, prompting much speculation as to what, if anything, was agreed.[4] The Guardian published a written note in June 2003 which, it claimed, outlined the policy areas proposed by Brown that Blair would commit to as part of the deal, namely a "fairness agenda" consisting of "social justice, employment opportunities and skills" under a Labour government.[5] In October 2003, columnist Tom Brown told the BBC TV station that Gordon Brown had informed him of the deal the day after it had allegedly been made. Tom Brown said to BBC Radio Scotland:

I'm in absolutely no doubt there was a deal since Gordon phoned me the morning after it was made and told me about it. But at the same time I also believe that both men left the restaurant with a different version of the deal in their minds. They hadn't actually written it down on paper. Gordon believed Blair would step down about now actually, and Blair believed that he... hadn't committed himself to any timetable.[6]

A 2007 Dispatches programme entitled "Gordon Brown — Fit For Office?" claimed that Gordon Brown felt betrayed after losing support from Peter Mandelson and other friends and that this lack of support, rather than any deal, made him decide not to run for the leadership.[7]

An account of the pact between the two politicians was presented in detail in the 2001 book The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage written by BBC journalist James Naughtie. The relationship between Blair and Brown from the years 1983 to 1994—culminating in an in-depth dramatisation of the Granita meeting—was the focus of a 2003 made-for-television film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Peter Morgan, based in part upon Naughtie's book. The film, titled The Deal, starred Michael Sheen as Blair and David Morrissey as Brown. A caption in the opening titles (directly inspired—according to Frears—by the identical epigraph at the start of the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)[8] informed viewers that "much of what follows is true".[9]

Location of the meeting[edit]

In a televised interview by Piers Morgan in 2010, Brown admitted that he deferred contesting the Labour leadership and that Blair had promised to hand over power to him at a later point, but that the two men later fought bitterly after—from Brown's perspective—Blair failed to keep to his end of the bargain.[10] Brown also stated that the deal had not been made in Granita but had been struck before the men met in the restaurant.[11] In her autobiography, Cherie Blair claims that the deal took place at a neighbour's home, not at Granita.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peston, Robert (2005). Brown's Britain. London: Short Books. pp. 66–68. ISBN 1-904095-67-4.  cited in Smithers, Alan (2005), "Education", in Seldon, Anthony, The Blair Effect 2001-5, Cambridge University Press, p. 258, ISBN 0-521-86142-X 
  2. ^ Dorey, Peter (2005). Policy Making In Britain: An Introduction. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage Publications. p. 115. ISBN 0-7619-4904-6. 
  3. ^ "Timeline: Blair vs Brown". BBC. 2006-09-07. Retrieved 2005-12-25. 
  4. ^ Wheeler, Brian (5 December 2005). "Profile: Gordon Brown". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Happold, Tom and Maguire, Kevin. Revealed: Brown and Blair's pact The Guardian, 2003-06-06. Retrieved on 2005-12-25.
  6. ^ "Brown and Blair 'did make deal'". BBC. 2003-10-04. Retrieved 2005-12-25. 
  7. ^ Channel 4 - News - Dispatches - Gordon Brown: Fit For Office?
  8. ^ "Royal blues". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Portillo, Michael; Allan, Tim (2003-09-25). "Pact or fiction?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  10. ^ Revealed: Brown and Blair's pact The Times, 2010-02-07. Retrieved on 2010-02-07.
  11. ^ "Brown admits deal over leadership". BBC News. 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  12. ^ "Blair 'secretly advising Brown'". BBC News Online. 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-10.