The Blair–Brown deal (or Granita Pact) was an alleged gentlemen's agreement struck between Shadow Home Secretary Tony Blair and Shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown in May 1994. It is widely believed that the two met in the now-defunct restaurant Granita in Islington, London, following the death of Labour Leader John Smith on 12 May, and that Brown agreed, in return for certain promises, to not stand for the leadership in order to allow Blair a better chance of victory. The existence of any deal was denied for many years by both Blair and Brown.
It was widely believed that Gordon Brown agreed not to stand in the 1994 Labour leadership election in order to allow Tony Blair an easy victory. In return, Brown would be granted wide powers over domestic policy in any Blair Government; Blair would go on to lead Labour to a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. It was also widely believed that Blair agreed, if he was appointed Prime Minister, to stay in the job for only two terms and then resign in Brown's favour.
The existence of the deal was publicly dismissed by Blair, Brown and many of their associates for several years, prompting much speculation as to what, if anything, was agreed. The Guardian published a written note in June 2003 which, it claimed, outlined the policy areas proposed by Brown that Blair would commit to as part of the deal, namely a "fairness agenda" consisting of "social justice, employment opportunities and skills" under a Labour Government. In October 2003, columnist Tom Brown told the BBC that Brown had informed him of the deal the day after it had allegedly been made. Tom Brown said to BBC Radio Scotland:
I'm in absolutely no doubt there was a deal since Gordon phoned me the morning after it was made and told me about it. But at the same time I also believe that both men left the restaurant with a different version of the deal in their minds. They hadn't actually written it down on paper. Gordon believed Blair would step down about now actually, and Blair believed that he... hadn't committed himself to any timetable.
A 2007 Dispatches programme entitled "Gordon Brown: Fit For Office?" claimed that Brown felt betrayed after losing support from Peter Mandelson and other friends and that this lack of support, rather than any deal, made him decide not to run for the leadership.
An account of the pact between the two politicians was presented in detail in the 2001 book The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage written by BBC journalist James Naughtie. The relationship between Blair and Brown from the years 1983 to 1994—culminating in an in-depth dramatisation of the Granita meeting—was the focus of a 2003 made-for-television film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Peter Morgan, based in part upon Naughtie's book. The film, titled The Deal, starred Michael Sheen as Blair and David Morrissey as Brown. A caption in the opening titles (directly inspired—according to Frears—by the identical epigraph at the start of the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) informed viewers that "much of what follows is true".
Location of the meeting
In a televised interview with Piers Morgan in 2010, Brown admitted that he deferred contesting the Labour leadership and that Blair had promised to hand over power to him at a later point, but that the two men later fought bitterly after—from Brown's perspective—Blair failed to keep to his end of the bargain. Brown also stated that the deal had not been made in Granita but had been struck before the men met in the restaurant. In her autobiography, Cherie Blair claims that the deal took place at a neighbour's home, not at Granita.
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