Tony Blair moves from hating Tom Watson's guts to loving his work

Written by David Singleton on 3 March 2019 in Diary

The former PM praised the ‘really great leadership’ of the deputy leader.

When Tom Watson led the Brownite rebellion against Tony Blair in 2006, the then prime minister issued a brutal smack down. As he faced a wave of resignations by junior ministers, Blair branded Watson “disloyal, discourteous and wrong” for signing the letter urging him to go.

In his autobiography a few years later, Blair reflected: “It was unusually brutal, but at the time I felt he deserved it. Actually later I felt sorry for him and regretted I had done it.”

Now there is fresh evidence that the former PM is ready to move on. Striking a rather different tone from 13 years ago, Blair appeared on the Andrew Marr Show and praised the “really great leadership” of the current deputy leader. It comes as Watson is now fighting an increasingly bitter battle with general secretary Jennie Formby.

In particular, Blair praised Watson over his move to set up a social democratic group within the Labour party. He said: “As a result of what he's doing, he's encouraging people who do share a perspective of the Labour Party as a governing, modern, progressive party, he's actually encouraging them in a sense to stay because he's providing a space within which people can debate and argue.”

The remarkable nature of Blair’s journey from Watson’s arch-enemy to his biggest fan was neatly captured by journalist Jane Merrick…






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