Tony Blair reveals pressure of leading the country

Tony Blair has told how he did not enjoy being prime minister due to the huge responsibility and his lack of experience.

The 67-year-old, who led the country from 1997 to 2007, said it was ‘crazy’ that the person who moves into No 10 has often not worked in government before.

He said that he started the job at his ‘most popular and least capable’ and ended it a decade later at his ‘least popular and most capable’.

Tony Blair has told how he did not enjoy being prime minister due to the huge responsibility and his lack of experience. Above, Blair inside Downing Street

Tony Blair has told how he did not enjoy being prime minister due to the huge responsibility and his lack of experience. Above, Blair inside Downing Street

Tony Blair has told how he did not enjoy being prime minister due to the huge responsibility and his lack of experience. Above, Blair inside Downing Street 

Newly elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair waves at supporters upon his arrival at No. 10 Downing Street in London

Newly elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair waves at supporters upon his arrival at No. 10 Downing Street in London

Newly elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair waves at supporters upon his arrival at No. 10 Downing Street in London

Mr Blair said: 'I don't think I did enjoy the job because the responsibility is so huge'. File image of Mr Blair with the Queen above

Mr Blair said: 'I don't think I did enjoy the job because the responsibility is so huge'. File image of Mr Blair with the Queen above

Mr Blair said: ‘I don’t think I did enjoy the job because the responsibility is so huge’. File image of Mr Blair with the Queen above 

The comments were made during an interview with BBC Radio 4 for a new programme focusing on how the role of prime minister has changed over the last 300 years.

Mr Blair said: ‘I don’t think I did enjoy the job because the responsibility is so huge.

…as his son’s apprentice firm banks a cool £10m  

Standing outside No 10, young Euan Blair may have already been familiar with his father’s slogan: ‘Education, education, education.’

Now, 23 years later, he is raking in millions from his own education business.

Standing outside No 10, young Euan Blair may have already been familiar with his father’s slogan: ‘Education, education, education’

Standing outside No 10, young Euan Blair may have already been familiar with his father’s slogan: ‘Education, education, education’

Standing outside No 10, young Euan Blair may have already been familiar with his father’s slogan: ‘Education, education, education’

Newly published accounts show the 37-year-old’s online apprenticeships venture made almost £10million in a year. As the ex-prime minister’s son owns 47 per cent of the firm, his income will rival that of his father, who left politics with a string of luxury homes and has offered costly consultancy to senior leaders and corporations. The soaring earnings of young Blair’s Multiverse Group Ltd – which provides apprenticeship training services for firms – explain why it was valued at £147million in January.

That meant Euan’s stake was potentially worth a cool £70million. Accounts for the year to March 2020 show Multiverse doubled its staff to 98 and its cash in the bank rocketed by £7.9million to £9.33million. Euan created the firm in 2016 alongside entrepreneur Sophie Adelman to help the 50 per cent who do not go to university find apprenticeships.

The ex-Morgan Stanley banker, married to venture capitalist Suzanne Ashman, said: ‘We’re empowering people from diverse backgrounds to access the very best opportunities.’

The Blairs’ daughter Kathryn is a 33-year-old barrister, middle son Nicky, 35, is a football agent and youngest son Leo, 20, is at Oxford.

 

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‘Every day you’re making decisions and every day you’re under massive scrutiny, as is your family. So I didn’t know if I enjoyed it.

‘The paradox is that you start at your most popular and least capable and you end at your least popular and most capable.’

Since he stepped down from Parliament in 2007, Mr Blair has made a fortune giving speeches and advising banks. 

Recently he has re-entered politics, making suggestions on how to deal with the pandemic. 

The former Labour leader – who was only ever in opposition before his party’s 1997 landslide election win – compared his experience of becoming prime minister to a fan being appointed manager of Manchester United.

He said: ‘The crazy thing about the job is that it’s the only job I can think of in which the importance of what you’re doing is so immense and the requirement of experience for doing it is so nugatory. 

‘The first job I ever had in government was prime minister.

‘I use the analogy of a football team. If you’re looking for the new coach of Manchester United and ‘I tell you what, we’re going to find the most enthusiastic and persuasive fan we can find and put in him charge of the team’. People would say you’re insane.’

The BBC programme also spoke with former prime ministers David Cameron and Sir John Major, as well as to the current office holder Boris Johnson.

Recalling his own experiences of the job, Mr Cameron said that the office is underpowered in comparison to other government departments. 

‘Everyone thinks No 10 is all-powerful because it is the office of the prime minister,’ he said. ‘But of course No 10 is very small, underpowered, compared to these massive departments of state.

‘I remember joking after a few months that you spend far too much time trying to find what the government’s actually doing and quite a lot of time trying to stop it.’ 

He added: ‘I used to find during the day that I would often pop up [to his kitchen in Downing Street] and make a sandwich for lunch. Because you do need a bit of time to be able to be on your own and just think and just breathe.

‘Just a few moments of peace at lunchtime and making a cheese sandwich and eating it alone. 

‘These were really valuable moments.’ Mr Johnson paid tribute to the teams which help support prime ministers in their role at Downing Street.

‘The great thing about being in No 10, as I think probably any prime minister has found, is that it’s a job that is brilliantly supported by a massive team of people who have all evolved over hundreds of years into what is a big department of state now,’ he said. 

‘And what you’ve got is an 18th-century townhouse, rather beautiful. 

‘So this is an incredible institution that has evolved over time into this extraordinary centre of a G7 economy.’

The first of three programmes in the series is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11am.

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