The Washington Post

Gordon Brown had “volcanic” temper, former British finance minister says in memoir

Alistair Darling, Britain’s former chancellor of the exchequer, and a longtime insider of the New Labor movement, has some harsh things to say about his old boss, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his new memoir “Back from the Brink:1,000 Days at Number 11.” (That’s No. 11 Downing Street, the chancellor’s official residence.)

Things didn’t go exactly swimmingly between Brown and Darling:when the economy tanked, both had trouble agreeing on responses. Then there was Brown’s management style. “Appalling”, “volcanic” and “brutal” are some of the adjectives Darling uses to describe Brown’s temper.

In 2009, Brown tried to sack Darling and replace him with another cabinet minister. But when an unrelated scandal made it politically dangerous to remove his finance minister, Brown offered him clemency in a most brusque way, “Okay, you can stay,” he told Darling.

On a visit to the Bush White House with Brown, who often traveled with a large entourage, Darling could only find room in the last car of the motorcade and reached the door after it was closed. While the press watched and snapped photos Darling had no choice but to knock. But would anyone open? This was the White House after all.

“Well, my thinking was – and I never thought I’d think this – I’ve never been so glad to see President Bush,” Darling writes. “Because the door opened, and there was the proprietor, the president of the United States.”

Prime Minister Brown hadn’t noticed that his finance minister had been shut out.


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