Blair: I freed central bank

FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed it was his decision to hand independence to the Bank of England in 1997 and said he set “the broad framework of the economy” during his decade in power.

The provocative remarks – made in Blair’s memoir, A Journey – are likely to stir up the Labour leadership contest. They will be seen as an attempt to wrest some of Labour’s policymaking achievements from Gordon Brown, who was first chancellor and then Prime Minister. Ed Balls, Brown’s protégé, wrote a pamphlet in 1992 advocating giving the Bank powers separate from the government.

Referring to the move greeted as an early Brown masterstroke, Blair wrote: “When I suggested it, he readily agreed. I allowed Gordon to make the statement and indeed gave him every paean of praise and status in becoming the major economic figure of the government. In truth, too, as with the Bank of England independence, the broad framework of the economy... was set by me.”

Blair said Brown lost this year’s general election because he lost the “crucial” support of business by announcing the new 50 per cent top income tax band and hiking national insurance bills for employers.