Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Major discussed on FT Politics



The West could do business with the same time. There were one or two moments of real tension off to the record summit. Reagan essentially wanted to get rid of nuclear missiles and Margaret Thatcher was pulled as well. They were diverging views on Bush and Thatcher on Germany formation. As I say she was also pulled by the invasion of Grenada but largely it was more the world view of dealing with Russia managing the end of the Cold War and the West was right and had the might and then also obviously deregulation just the whole sense of weaken the state. If you remember Reagan's is comment about seven. Most Cherry was in the English language. I'm from the government. Hi How can I help. Margaret Thatcher could have easily said that but then of course the fact she is tenants the Meiji Agius. And I think I've heard you say a couple of times before the John. Major was quite an underrated prime minister that he won the ninety two election when nobody expected him to. But it also of course he achieved Maastricht. Which you've said was cake and eat it? It was a good deal for the UK. He was underrated in the sense that had to manage judge a very slim majority in parliament. And therefore he was vulnerable but he warned against expectations. That ninety-two election against Neil Kinnock. What what then happened of course was a disaster? The explosion of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism that we had joined which was a fixed but adjustable title exchange rate system where we thought this would tame inflation and maybe it was a prelude to joining a single currency probably not but we joined joined the wrong rate and it exploded in Nineteen ninety-two and the Conservatives reputation for solid economic policy exploited by the way Nigel Olsson now. A big eurosceptic skeptic favored joining the are just want to say that but the crucial point was that John Major and can clog and Norman Lamont want reconstituted British economic policy and it was a great success and they left a great legacy for Tony Blair nineteen ninety-seven indeed and of course when Gordon Brown eventually came in he followed the same spending lose. Ken Clarke done over his previous couple of years as onslaught probably a mistake. Actually they could have eased up up a bit. They overcooked as I remember in ninety nine two thousand on the public spending but they were so keen to have credibility in the markets. What what they didn't do? I always remember this. They had one hundred seventy nine seat. Majority this was extraordinary. Lack crushed the conservatives in ninety-seven and and yet they were still worried about Europe. And I can remember in European summit in the Netherlands. ninety-seven Alister Campbell. Bounding over to me. And I'd known him when he was a Daily Mirror political editor under the Reagan Thatcher years. And he said what is this year of politics. That sort of summed up where we were going but when you look at that email see John Major is now come out as one of the biggest voices since in his retirement for the European caused. But then you sold the split splitting the Conservative Party was opening and many of the characters who oppose Maastricht under the same people who led the brexit campaign many decades later he managed to hold it together. He kept the summit together in that period when you moved to bustles and was the. FTC's bureau chief that. How did the major government representative south in those summits? How engaged was Britain? Because one of the things that you skeptics have always said is. Britain didn't have an influence bitten. Didn't have a voice. Well this is just not true. First of all on the security side we very very important. We were influential in the Balkans conflict. Douglas Hurd was then foreign secretary. Latterly Malcolm Rifkind. We will a serious Powell. With a serious worldview. Second we will always influential in trade matters is where we represented the free trade wing influencing the Germans and containing the French third. We were always influential on the rules around the single angle market. We were respected in that respect full we backed enlargement I to Austria Sweden and Finland. No way didn't make it and then to central and eastern Europe we had a massive influence. So this is completely rewriting history. What we did have would to awkward things? One was the beef war. We had the scandal so we had a beat boycott from the U.. And John Major's suffered that it was grim period and I think the the other point was he had a slim majority and so he looked a bit weak. I remember helmet. Kohl's national security advisor saying to me the trouble Johm Asia's and he did a sort of wavy. TV motion with his hand. He said he's like a skier. He's always sort of skiing around things but of course you only got a slim majority. That's what happens before we get to the blaze. There is one think I think the major era that we should mention the F.. T. which I still hear from conservative. MP's today which was a nineteen ninety-two election endorsement. Now says long before you became editor it was not your core but when the FT endorsed Neil Kinnock in nineteen ninety two. That was very infamous moment. That's gone down in the paper's history. Well I was actually fortunately absolutely in Berkeley California on Sabbatical after my tour in Washington and before going to Brussels and I remember being asked to give a lecture at Berkeley on the coming general election and I finished it with saying. I'm not really sure what's going to happen but I can be sure about. One thing that the Financial Times would not endorse Neil Okay and when people go back to read that leader extraordinary piece because basically makes the case for John Major accepting the power graph then swerves towards. Actually it's time unhealed kinnock. Yeah I think maybe some mice got to Attack it just before Winston print and we were criticized very heavily but we got through that I think people hold that over us and it's you know it's nearly thirty years ago. Please come you know have a statute of limitation so we come to the black bound years and you still in Brussels this poem before you came back as news editor of the F.. T. Antoni black came in on a very pro-european wave and he was also in favor of the euro. And eventually Gordon Gordon vowed turned against it advised by his then chief advisor later shadow. Chancellor Ed balls how did you see bless approach to you because it strikes you when you read back He. He came in on time to take a different approach. The Meteo and be fully integrated Orland now with you but then pressured by maybe some parts of the press some pots public opinion. He became pretty eurosceptic in some ways. Well I see it slightly differently. Set the first thing is to remember is how big black was laws in Europe. At the beginning he was seen as the young leader. Who got it right? How to win a huge majority the new Third Way and he just towered over all of his counterparts because Helmet Kohl was on his way out just fine Europe? I mean play was the big new thing. I think that Gordon Brown had serious economic doubts about joining the single currency. I think they were right. Peter Mandelson was whispering in Tony Blair's he is saying if you want to be a real. Your opinion should join Tony Blair. was you know. He's flexible shall we say. I'm not sure he absolutely committed but he gave the impression that he favored it. And do you think looking back on that debate the UK made the right decision about the US. No question because at that point obviously there was a huge huge debate. It's the first time dominic. Cummings now the Plymouth chief advisor in is probably going to shape. A lot of his government entered into the national picture because he ran the business for sterling campaign at that moment and what is interesting. There are some people I remember our Gideon Rachman with someone who is skeptical of joining the euro but that was a point again the ratcheting up of US skepticism for muster in the ninety S. Until we come to Brexit so this is fine they were right business sterling. This absolutely right and Dominic Cummings around Britain campaign but what they tend understand. was that again. We had cake and eat it. We were the offshore trade and Financial Center. Where all the money from the euro zone? We're capital flows around the single currency increased dramatically. They came to London. They didn't go to Frankfurt Onto Brussels or to Paris so we had the best of both worlds out of the single currency but took advantage of the single currency throughout financial. Send and I want to ask you about George W Bush and Tony Black. Because that's relationship. You must've watch developed over a period of time that what was it that drew those too close together was it. Tony Blair is designed to be a statesman because that was probably one of the mall closest special relationship since the faction Vega era. Well it's funny because the Brits were worried because Bla- actually had a very good relationship with Bill Clinton politically. They were very close David. The Third Way Third Way politicians. So I think Tony Blair was very anxious to get close to George W Bush. He saw this as the key relationship and of course I was a little bit of naive not enough to nine eleven. Everything changed. It was fine to get close to George W Bush from the Americans on invasion of Afghanistan and toppling. The Taliban the problem was faced too. And I remember having a tool with senior adviser to Tony Blair and he said you know. That's Iraq phase two we invade Iraq. That's a whole thing and the neo. Cons drove the policy and then when France sherack can should in Germany pushed back against the neons and against invasion of Blair found himself. We gotta choose and he thought he could influence Bush and the debate in the UN and get a UN resolution. Of course we failed and this was a disaster. Now you you became editor of the F.. T. In two thousand and five which was around the time of Tony. Blessed third and final and Labor's last election victory. We should point out as well then and that was when the mood began to move towards Gordon bound. He became promise to in two thousand seven. Of course he was hit very quickly with the financial crisis. Which I'm sure your degrees being if not the one of the defining finding stories of your editorship at the F.? T. Gordon bound is highly lauded as the guy who saved not just the. UK's according but a lot of the world banking system as well now but is often criticized. Prime Minister has not been too successful. Do you think history might be kind to Gordon Brown because of his role in the Christ. Oh there's no question that Gordon Brown played a leadership role in the global financial crisis. We were earlier to spot the flaws in the financial system. What needed to be done? In terms of recapitalizing the banks. I think we would take him very seriously. Around the table and we showed a leadership role with Nicolas Sarkozy than the Americans came in and finally he dealt with therein banking problem and the problem was the Europeans not responding so yes I do think that people will be kind to Golden Brown and then the Ft. Which I guess was your first? Election Dawson backed the Conservatives in twenty ten much to Gordon Brown's displeasure. I'm sure leaves a very unhappy but can imagine that phone call. What was the reason that you decided that Labour had had enough of that point that it was enough it was time for a change? Actually it wasn't a phone call. It was a conversation in person who a few few weeks off to it but I think that we just felt that David Cameron Joe's bone represented a new kind of conservative movement Kamaluddin more pro European with a bit of skepticism and it was and we just felt it was time for a change. We'd had thirteen years of labor and in the end and we saw that they can get a majority so I was very very keen to have coalition government which was a new experiment largely worked quite well until of course in in two thousand fifteen when On the Lynton Crosby David Cameron decided to kill the coalition. Indeed I think it was William Hague who comes to that time that when they signed the coalition. Do Go. He said to someone who was in the room we've assigned the death won't if the Liberal Democrats they knew at that point it would destroy their reputation as this independent centre-left voice.

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