Tony Blair has laid bare his rocky relationship with Chancellor Gordon Brown.
He describes rows over the EU budget and Cabinet choices, accusations of bullying and a Brown-led press campaign against him in 2004.
He says: “So was he difficult, at times maddening? Yes. But he was also strong, capable and brilliant, and those were qualities for which I never lost respect.”
Considering the future of the Chancellor after the 2001 election, Blair says: “Moving him could have been politically achievable but who would I have put in his place? The Gordon problem – the combination of the brilliant and the impossible – remained.
“I came to the conclusion that having him inside and constrained was better than outside and let loose or, worse, becoming a figurehead of a far more damaging force well to the left.”
He says: “My failure to do so was not a lack of courage. Nor was it simply about managing a complex situation. It was because I believed, despite it all, that he was the best Chancellor for the country.”
Blair describes the “relentless personal pressure” of being repeatedly asked when he would stand down as “wearing”.