London, Feb.28 (ANI): After the Iraq war, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was so deeply depressed that he told then Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Brown and Home Secretary John Prescott that he would quit No 10 the following summer.
A new book by the Observer's Andrew Rawnsley reveals that Blair's physical and mental decline was so profound that he confided to friends that he "spaced out" several times during Prime Minister's Questions and often woke up in the middle of the night with sweat trickling down the back of his neck.
Rawnsley's explosive account is in The End of the Party, which is published on Monday , extracts from which appear in tomorrow's Observer.
According to The Guardian, it lays bare, for the first time, how Blair was haunted and tormented by the deepening chaos and bloodshed in Iraq at the same time as being worn down by the constant psychological warfare being waged by Brown, his next-door neighbour in Downing Street, who was increasingly desperate to take his job.
While Blair's gift for presentation helped him hide his depression from the public and most of his staff, his private turmoil was so severe that he decided there was nothing for it but to hand over to Brown midway through his second term.
Rawnsley is the first journalist to detail how Blair, in those darkest days, made clear at a dinner with both Brown and Prescott in November 2003, and later in a telephone call to Prescott in spring 2004, that he would step down.
Rawnsley then charts how Blair - urged by his wife, Cherie, and closest political friends to pull back from the brink and deny Brown his chance - gradually recovered his self-belief and decided to fight on.
The volte-face caused Brown's frustration to turn to rage.
On one occasion Brown went round to No 10 to get an answer. One of Blair's inner circle who witnessed this says: "Gordon was just losing it. He was behaving like a belligerent teenager. Just standing in the office shouting: 'When are you going to fucking go?'?"
Blair's dark period throughout late 2003 and early 2004 was compounded by his heart complaint and anxiety that his young children were suffering at school because of the unpopular war their father had championed in Iraq.
In autumn 2004, Blair declared he would fight the election, but not lead Labour into a fourth one.
But the statement led to relentless speculation about his departure date. Rawnsley reveals how, in the summer of 2006, Prescott was so frustrated with Blair's refusal to name a andover date that he threatened to resign as deputy prime minister unless he did so. (ANI)