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THEWEEKLYWORLDEDITION OF The DailyTelegraph AND The SundayTelegraph
September1-72010 No. 997
:: SPORT P48
Suspicion falls on 80 games in cricket scandal
By Patrick Hennessy and Andrew Alderson TONY BLAIR attempted to prolong his time as prime minister after he was warned that George WBush’s US administration had “grave doubts” about Gordon Brown’s suitability to follow him into No10, well placed sources revealed last week.
The White House warnings, which were reiterated by other leading US-based figures, played a key role in Mr Blair’s attempt to cling on to power until at least 2008, and to groom David Miliband as his successor, The Telegraph has been told.
Mr Blair hatched his plot to stay on longer than planned after being told that President Bush and those around him would have “big problems” working with Mr Brown.
Senior officials in the US administration sounded the alert after a meeting between Mr Brown and Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush’s secretary of state, in which Mr Brown “harangued” her over American policy on aid, development and Africa. After the uncomfortable session, sources said that she reported her misgivings to the White House, and they were sent on to Mr Blair.
After taking the warnings on board, Mr Blair signalled his intention to stay on at No10 until at least 2008, the year of the US election to choose a successor to Mr Bush.
However, he was forced to abandon this plan following a “coup” led by Mr Brown’s supporters.
Mr Brown eventually became prime minister in June 2007, and pursued a foreign policy that was far more independent of America than Mr Blair’s had been.
The “understanding” between Mr Bush and Mr Blair was revealed to The Telegraph by well-placed Whitehall sources. However, the former prime minister’s spokesman denied last week that a “message” had been sent.
One source said: “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.”
Mr Blair is to address this sequence of events in his keenly awaited memoir, A Journey, which is being published this week. However, ahead of publication, this newspaper has pieced together the central narrative of his final years in power.
The fact that Mr Blair acted on US warnings over his likely successor will dismay many in the Labour Party who were deeply unhappy about Mr Blair’s readiness to back Mr Bush at all times, particularly over the decision to wage war with Iraq in 2003.
Following the meeting with Miss Rice, Mr Brown’s advisers were convinced that Mr Blair was starting to groom Mr Miliband, then the environment secretary, as his successor. They were particularly enraged when Mr Blair described Mr Miliband in an interview as “myWayne Rooney”.
However, Mr Blair also played what Brown allies now see as a “double game”, warning the then chancellor that he needed to adopt a different attitude towards senior American politicians.
Mr Miliband, who failed to challenge Mr Brown for the top job in 2007, will this week step up his campaign to become Labour’s leader. He told a rally of 1,000 supporters in London on Monday that under him, the party would be a “living, breathing movement for change in every community”.
In the summer of 2006, Mr Blair’s trip to America was widely seen to be his US swansong. It included a meeting with the President in Washington. However, on his return to Britain, his allies noticed a new-found determination to stay on in Downing Street. In the late summer he gave a notorious interview in which he denied any plan to leave office any time soon.
It was this, along with what was seen in Labour circles as an “unacceptable” refusal to condemn Israel for its attack on Lebanon, that sparked the
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Mohammad Amir, one of the players questioned by police, leaves the field after he is bowled out
By Richard Edwards, Martin Beckford and Murray Wardrop
MOREthan80international cricket matcheswill be investigated amid allegations that aLondon businessman has been running a multi-million-pound match-fixing racket.
The sport was thrown into turmoil after four Pakistan players were questioned as part of aScotland Yard inquiry into claims they had taken orders fromMazharMajeed, a British property developer and sports agent, to corrupt aTest match at Lord’s.
Sources said that the passports of the cricketers under investigation could be seized and that up to seven players could bequestioned on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. The rest of the squad could also be interviewed as potential witnesses.
Conspiracy to defraud carries a maximumjail term of 10years.
England’s victory to seal the fourmatch series onSundaywastainted as details of the scandal emerged.
In a tabloid newspaper sting, Mr
Majeed claimed that hehadbeen running a racket with seven players for “about two and ahalf years” and added “we’ve mademassesand masses ofmoney”.
According to the newspaper, before the gameatLord’s, he specifically ordered twoPakistan players to deliver deliberate no-balls, byoverstepping the crease as they bowled.
They did so exactly at the momentshepinpointed last Thursday and last Friday. MrMajeed