London: Tony Blair hatched a plot to prolong his time as British prime minister until at least 2008 and prevent Gordon Brown from succeeding him, following a US’ warning that President George W Bush had "grave doubts" about Brown`s suitability, a media report said.
The White House warnings that President Bush and those around him would have "big problems" working with Brown played a key role in Blair`s attempt to cling on to power longer than planned and groom former UK`s Foreign Secretary David Miliband as his successor, `The Sunday Telegraph` quoted highly placed Whitehall sources as saying.
In fact, senior officials in US administration sounded the "alert" after a meeting between Brown and Bush`s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which Brown "harangued" her over American policy on aid, development and Africa.
After the uncomfortable session, the sources said she reported her misgivings to the White House, and they were sent on in turn to Blair, following which he signalled his intention to stay on at No 10 Downing Street until at least 2008, the year of the US election to choose a successor to Bush.
"This at last answers the question of why Tony Blair tried so hard to stay on: The Americans were far from happy about the imminent succession of Gordon Brown. They left him in no doubt about that," one source was quoted as saying.
However, Blair was forced to abandon this plan following a "coup" led by Brown`s supporters. Brown eventually became Premier in June 2007 and pursued a foreign policy that was far more independent of America than Blair`s had been.
But, Blair`s spokesman has denied that a "message" had been sent.