News24

Tearful British PM opens up

2010-02-12 15:42

London - A tearful British Prime Minister Gordon Brown opened up about the death of his baby daughter and how he proposed to his wife, in comments aired on Friday seen as showing his softer side ahead of elections.

Brown, who is battling to avoid defeat in elections due by June, also revealed details about the stormy relationship with his predecessor Tony Blair, while dismissing as a myth an infamous story about a pact they made.

The British premier lacks Blair's charisma, and opinion polls suggest his Labour government will be ousted by media-friendly Conservative leader David Cameron's party in polls tipped to be held on May 6.

Supporters have often said Brown is far more engaging on a personal level, but he said shortly after taking office in 2007 that he would not use his children as "props" to help him politically.

In an hour-long television interview, he nevertheless went into greater than ever detail about the death of his daughter Jennifer from a brain haemorrhage, just 10 days after she was born prematurely in 2002.

"Nobody actually really told us for a week, it just gradually dawned on us that, that something was going wrong and she wasn't getting bigger, she wasn't growing," he told former newspaper editor Piers Morgan.

"We had a weekend where we just knew that she just was not going to survive and she was baptised and we were with her and I held her as she died.

"She was such a beautiful baby and you couldn't see from anything that there was something so fundamentally wrong."

In other comments, he said the so-called Granita deal - named after a north London restaurant where he and Blair allegedly agreed a pact to share power before their New Labour party was elected in 1997 - was not true.

"There was no deal struck at Granita's. That's been one of the great myths and people have written about it."

"I'd already agreed with Tony before that dinner that he would stand for the leadership and I would stay on as the shadow chancellor, as the person in charge of economic policy.

"And there's an understanding that at some point Tony would stand down and he would support me if, when that was the case. And that's where we left it," he added.