Cherie Blair has struck a deal to publish a "warts and all" autobiography in a deal reported to be worth £1m. Her memoirs will be published in October next year and will be awaited nervously by Gordon Brown and his allies.
Although Tony Blair is now said to be on good terms with his successor, his wife barely concealed her fury at the way she believed he treated Mr Blair while he was Prime Minister.
At the Labour conference a year ago, Mrs Blair said "that's a lie" when Mr Brown told delegates he enjoyed his working partnership with her husband. Although she later denied the remark, it was widely believed to have reflected her opinion of the then Chancellor.
Mrs Blair's £1m advance from the publishers Little, Brown will be paid in three stages – an upfront payment of £300,000, then £300,000 when her book is handed over and the rest when it is published. The Blairs have huge outgoings, including a mortgage of about £19,300 a month on their £3.6m house near London's Marble Arch. Although Mr Blair could earn £6m from his own memoirs, he is in no hurry to write them.
Mrs Blair's book is being billed as a "warm, intimate and often very funny portrait of a family living in extraordinary circumstances". Her autobiography will chart the story of her life from a childhood in working-class Liverpool in the 1960s, to becoming a QC specialising in human rights law and then as wife of the Prime Minister. During 10 years in Downing Street, Mrs Blair continued her legal career, gave birth to her fourth child, Leo, but was a controversial figure. She famously said she was "not superwoman" when she apologised for using the convicted fraudster Peter Foster, who was the boyfriend of her lifestyle guru Carole Caplin, to help her buy two flats in Bristol.
Mrs Blair said yesterday: "I feel so privileged to have travelled so far. So much has happened – things that my grandma could never have dreamt of – that it feels wrong somehow just to let it pass as if the journey had no meaning."
Alastair Campbell, the former Downing Street director of communications, omitted many of the rows between Mr Blair and Mr Brown from the first instalment of his diaries published in July. Mrs Blair may be less censorious. One Labour source said: "Two words strike dread into me: 'Cherie' and 'book' ".
A spokeswoman for Little, Brown would not comment on whether Mrs Blair would give a candid account of the tensions between her husband and his friend-turned rival Mr Brown. Ursula Mackenzie, publisher and chief executive officer of Little, Brown, said: "As a barrister and a judge, Cherie Blair is used to speaking on behalf of other people. At last she will speak for herself – she has come such a long way and has a fascinating story to tell."
Their side of the story: How the Prime Minister's wife featured in political memoirs
Piers Morgan The Insider
Wednesday 20 October, 2004
"Cherie grabbed me and planted a smacker on both cheeks. 'How's my best friend?' she giggled. 'Oh, missing you terribly,' I laughed. 'Is your personal life sorted out now, I'm worried about you,' she said. 'Don't worry Cherie, my moral compass is slowly coming back on track. To be honest, I've given up hoping you'll leave Tony for me.' 'Oooh, you naughty boy! You're far too young for me, and I'm far too old for you'."
Christopher Meyer DC Confidential
February 2001 (At Bush and Blair's first meeting at Camp David)
"Cherie said: 'I don't expect that they are looking forward to this any more than we are.' The visit ended on a note of farce ... The cry went up: 'Cherie's hairdresser is missing!' He had been left behind at Camp David. A helicopter brought him post-haste to Andrews [air base, Washington] as the rest of us kicked our heels."
Paddy AshdownThe Ashdown Diaries, Volume 1
Saturday 9 November 1996 (A dinner at the Ashdowns)
"Cherie kept going on about how awful the Tories were, saying: 'Of course, it would be terrible if I said all these things in public. Tony is so restrained in public. But I don't feel that way at all.'"
Alastair CampbellThe Blair Years
Saturday 1 April 1995
"CB made a straight beeline for Fiona [Millar, Campbell's partner], and complained that I was running their lives, making TB do far too much, and preventing him from being a normal person."
The Point of Departure
Monday 9 December 2002
"The mischief stems from today's Mail, which has published emails between Cherie and a convicted con man, which purport to show that he helped her buy a student flat for Euan. The press are now going through a familiar phase of having their cake and eating it. Cherie is damned for associating with a con man who cannot be trusted, while at the same time every allegation by the con man is solemnly reported as gospel truth by the same press."