Britain’s Tony Blair addresses his Labour Party conference as Prime Minister for the last time today. But it is his wife, Cherie, who has been stealing the headlines – after a reporter claimed to have heard her accusing Finance Minister Gordon Brown, of lying. Downing Street has denied the allegations but the incident is already overshadowing Blair’s big day.
When he takes to the podium at the conference hall in Manchester, Blair is expected to focus on how Labour could win a fourth straight term in office. Brown, still the most likely person to take the party into that the next election, praised Blair’s leadership during his speech yesterday, saying: “It has been a privilege for me to work with and for the most successful Labour Prime Minister.” It was on hearing those words that Cherie Blair allegedly said: “Well that’s a lie.”
Despite the denials, the subsequent headlines have already damaged efforts for Blair and Brown to put on a show of unity – and for the conference to be about party and policy rather than when Blair is going and whether Gordon Brown will replace him.