The prime minister, Gordon Brown accused the former minister and European Commissioner Peter Mandelson of spreading rumours that he was gay, Lord Levy’s autobiography claims.
A Question of Honour, serialised in The Mail on Sunday describes between Lord Levy and Mr Brown over Mr Mandelson.
Mr Brown and Mr Mandelson are believed to have fallen out over the his backing of Tony Blair to succeed as Labour leader following the death of John Smith.
“‘Make up with Peter?’ he hissed in an angry whisper.
Then, as his voice gradually rose from dispatch-box volume to a near shout, he exclaimed: ‘Peter? He’s been going around telling everyone that I’m gay! And I am NOT GAY!’”
The following extract of A Question of Honour can be found atThe Mail on Sunday online.
A few weeks afterwards, Tony turned to me as he was towelling down after a swim at my house in North London and remarked: “What am I going to do about Gordon and Mandelson?”
I had by now come to understand that whenever he asked that kind of question, he had a plan in mind – one that almost invariably involved me.
“You’re good with people,” he said. “Why don’t you have a talk with them both, see whether you can patch things up?” I saw Peter first for lunch in the Commons and explained how worried Tony was about the friction between two of the people he most relied on to change Labour and the country.
Peter, who had been on the receiving end of many months of deadly glares from Gordon, said: “It’s going to be difficult but if Tony wants us to have a go at patching things up, of course I’m ready to do anything I can.”
Buoyed, if still not confident, I then arranged to have lunch with Gordon.
We met on a Wednesday in a crowded top-floor restaurant in Millbank, a few minutes’ walk from Parliament.
Gordon was friendly – at least until I explained my mission.
“Make up with Peter?” he hissed in an angry whisper.
Then, as his voice gradually rose from dispatch-box volume to a near shout, he exclaimed: “Peter? He’s been going around telling everyone that I’m gay! And I am NOT GAY!”
Dozens of people looked around in astonishment, no doubt assuming that I had tried – and thankfully failed – to proposition the Shadow Chancellor.