Brown vs Morgan: The transcript

Politics.co.uk
Politics.co.uk

The full two-hour interview can be seen on 'Piers Morgan's Life Stories: Gordon Brown', Sunday, February 14th at 10.15pm on ITV1.

Gordon on why he did the interview

Piers Morgan: "Why are you here?"

Gordon Brown: "I think it's important that people know who you are and I think it's important that people can ask any questions they like about you. I'm an open book as far as people are concerned of anything they want to know I'm happy."


Gordon on being grumpy

Gordon Brown: "No, but determined and strong willed."

Piers Morgan: "Come on, you've been grumpy."

Gordon Brown: "Yeah but I'm not, I don't sort of behave like that. I want things done, I'm strong willed, I want to get things done so I get up in the morning and say, 'Look, let's get this done.' And if that sounds grumpy, well I don't think so."

Gordon on Sarah and his family

Gordon Brown: "I've got a wonderful family. Sarah and I, we're, we're a modern love story. We have been very fortunate. She is beautiful, she's elegant, she's compassionate, she's dignified, I'm very, very proud of her. And we've had to go through quite a few difficulties. And therefore to come through that and to be even strong, I mean it's my admiration for her, my love for her just grows and grows every day. We, I feel very fortunate indeed."

Gordon on Jeremy Clarkson

Piers Morgan: "Jeremy Clarkson called you a one-eyed Scottish idiot."

Gordon Brown: "Yeah well Jeremy Clarkson is a Conservative, he's putting his views. And I think he may have apologised for that, I don't know. But I think people thought that was unfair."

Piers Morgan: "But when you hear someone say that publicly just to get a laugh."

Gordon Brown: "Well, you know, it's Jeremy Clarkson so you say, 'That's, that.' I'm not going to get worked up about that, I'm not going to worry about that."

Gordon on the perks of the job

Gordon Brown: "There are perks, actually the greatest perk for me is that you're living in, in a building where you can both work and see your family."

Piers Morgan: "There must be, I mean, private jets, I mean ."

Gordon Brown: "No you've got to, everything's got to be declared. If you get anything. If someone gives me a present I just hand it back and it's declared as a gift and I don't have anything more to do with it."

Piers Morgan: "You don't keep any of them?"

Gordon Brown: "No, we don't keep them, I don't keep them."

Piers Morgan: "What's been the best present you weren't allowed to keep?"

Gordon Brown: "Er, I think the different governments in the Middle East send huge presents. One actually after a dinner was a full pig that they actually sent, that had been roasted."

Piers Morgan: "Really?"

Gordon Brown: "And I couldn't accept it."

Gordon on public speaking

Gordon Brown: "If you want, as, I think it was Tony or Peter Mandelson said, someone who's slick and a salesman that's one thing. I do think people want more depth. But I recognise that I'm not very good sometimes at presenting what I do. I don't take the care perhaps that I should have done in, in some of the ways I've said things. But deep down I'm actually thinking about how we do things rather than how we say things. So I've got to get better, I've got to get better."

Gordon on the supermarket

Piers Morgan: "Do you ever go to a supermarket?"

Gordon Brown: "It's very funny we order from the internet and Sarah orders from Downing Street. And the first days that I was in the job of Prime Minister and Sarah started to order from one of the supermarkets they wouldn't send it. They thought it was a joke. They didn't believe it. So I don't go much to the supermarket."

Gordon on his eye injury

Piers Morgan: "You're 16 years old and this guy suddenly says you could go blind here. It's a pretty dramatic thing to be hearing."

Gordon Brown: "You've got to rethink things and you've got to hope that you can get it sorted out. So I, I did lose the sight in one eye and I.got to the age of 21, so that was 16, 17, 18, 21 I was playing tennis one day and I, I suddenly realised that the same thing had happened to the other eye. And it was just on the tennis court playing you could just see I couldn't, there was a blind spot.

"And so I immediately went to the hospital. I arrived at the hospital and saw the old surgeon that had, had helped me. He said look it's gone, you've got to have an operation immediately but I'm not the person to do it. I've got a young guy who's just been trained in retinal surgery, this will be his first operation, but he's, he's the best guy."

He added: "I had the operation very quickly and then there was quite a long period of recovery but, you know, I feel very fortunate. I had a brilliant surgeon who had, very young, but had got this new technique for doing something that usually had not been able to be rescued. And now, of course, retinas can be dealt with pretty, pretty easily. And, I've still got a tear in my, tears in my retina but it's held for all these, all these years. I feel, I feel incredibly fortunate."

He added: "But it does, it does change your life. Because then, you know, you're thinking here you are this young, sporting guy who wants to play tennis, golf, run, everything else, and you've got to be far more care, far more careful. And so you do rethink what your life is about. And it's at that point you say well, you've got to use it for some, some purpose and so that is more of a decisive moment for me than anything I did when I was a kid with my older brother running newspapers."

Piers Morgan: "How does it actually affect you now? What's the reality of your sight and the impact on your ability to do your job? Just a casual thing."

Gordon Brown: "It's got it's, you know, I tend to write very badly as you know. But I tend to write in rather bigger letters than other people. But apart from that it's not really made too much difference."

Piers Morgan: "And how do you read normal books? Do you use a magnifying glass?"

Gordon Brown: "No, no not at all, not at all."

Piers Morgan: "You can read a normal book in normal print?"

Gordon Brown: "Yes, absolutely, absolutely. This operation was incredibly successful. It wasn't like the last, the three before which, which failed."

Piers Morgan: "Can you drive?"

Gordon Brown: "I have a driving licence but I haven't been driving for a while."

Piers Morgan: "And when was the last time you drove a car?"

Gordon Brown: "When I was 21."

Piers Morgan: "Really?"

Gordon Brown: "Yes. Because I . one of the things about this, when you lose the sight in one eye, your ability to judge distance is affected. Now, I know people who've managed to adjust to that and are able to drive but I'm being helpful to people by not driving."

Gordon on being a student

Gordon Brown: "I had a flat near the university and it was one of these big flats with, I think, eight different rooms and eight people stayed. And actually I came back from a conference and my flat had been burgled. And I arrived back and there was a policeman there and we went into my study and looked round my study where all my books were and all my sort of papers were and the police officer said, 'Totally ransacked sir, totally ransacked.' And I had to explain to him that the burglar had clearly not been in that room. It was actually exactly as I'd left it."

Piers Morgan: "Were you a big boozer then?"

Gordon Brown: "Drank a bit, yeah, it's."

Piers Morgan: "What could you knock, in a big night what would you do?"

Gordon Brown: "I don't know, a few pints of beer but it was only beer."

Piers Morgan: "It's the late sixties, you must have been knocking back."

Gordon Brown: "Probably, probably half a dozen."

Piers Morgan: "And what about, I mean obviously late sixties. Know where I'm going here Gordon?"

Gordon Brown: "University in the sixties was really a very exciting place."

Piers Morgan: "Well let me spell it out for you, there were a lot of narcotics washing around in universities."

Gordon Brown: "No I've never, I've never touched cannabis. Never, never touched any hard drugs."

Piers Morgan: "Never inhaled, exhaled?"

Gordon Brown: "Never, never inhaled or whatever."

Piers Morgan: "Not even a single spliff?"

Gordon Brown: "No, no."

Piers Morgan: "Really?"

Gordon Brown: "No, hated the stuff. Hated it."

Piers Morgan: "But all your mates must have been. I mean they were all,"

Gordon Brown: "I don't know, I don't know but I've always hated drugs, I've always thought they've done huge damage to people."

Piers Morgan: "How do you know you hated it if you never tried it?"

Gordon Brown: "Because I've seen, I saw the effects of what were happening and it's true in the sixties, true now, hard drugs through soft drugs, big problems for people, big, big problems. So I've never touched drugs."

Piers Morgan: "You were never tempted seriously?"

Gordon Brown: "No, never, never."

Piers Morgan: "What would you say."

Gordon Brown: "There's a, there's a sort of limit."

Piers Morgan: ".would you say to your student mates who were doing it?"

Gordon Brown: "I didn't say nothing because basically, you know, what they were doing was, I didn't know what they were doing. But I was never sort of involved in any drugs."

Gordon on the leadership

Piers Morgan: "Let me take you back to the day before John Smith died, where for all intents and purposes he was absolutely fine. In your head Gordon, if you're honest, you must have been not just hoping but believing you would be, after John Smith, the next Labour leader."

Gordon Brown: "I thought that would be possible and the first person I phoned when I heard John had died was Tony. And I said, 'Look, Tony, you may not know this but despite the fact it's not been announced, John unfortunately has, has died.' So I was talking to Tony, I said, 'Look, we've got to sort this out,' And so we started a conversation."

Piers Morgan: "Right but that conversation is starting with you thinking I'm gonna be the next leader."

Gordon Brown: "I believed I could do the job, I believed that I'd got the experience and built up the experience to do it.

Piers Morgan: "But it wouldn't be unfair, would it, to say that you have not harboured a resentment but you have felt throughout this period, you must have always looked back to that time and thought, really it ought to have been you. You were the guy with the experience ."

Gordon Brown: "I know but you can't, you can't look back."

Piers Morgan: "No but that's not an unfair."

Gordon Brown: "It's true."

Piers Morgan: "Characterisation."

Gordon Brown: "It's true, but I think you know yourself that if you look back and if you build your present just thinking about the past you, you can't deal with the future."

Gordon Brown also said: "There was no deal struck at Granitas. That's been one of the great myths and people have written about it. I'd already agreed with Tony before that, before that, dinner that he would stand for the leadership and I would stay on as the, the shadow chancellor, as the person in, in charge of economic policy. And there's an understanding that at some point Tony would stand down and he would support me if when that was the case. And that's where we left it."

Later he added

Gordon Brown: "You know, if I felt at certain points there were things that needed to be done soon and, and he disagreed with that then that was a cause of tension. Er, but equally. the relationship between a Chancellor and a Prime Minister incredibly difficult but it's also incredibly difficult even if you are friends. Because you're in a high pressure world, you're having to make decisions every day, er, and sometimes you will disagree on them.

"And I don't deny that, that there were fights about different issues but it's always the case. In fact it's better to be open and honest and say there were disagreements about certain things but at the same time we managed, I think in the national interest, to get, to get things sorted out."

Gordon on Jennifer Jane and Sarah

Piers Morgan: "I remember that time very well Gordon. I was at, at the Mirror at the time and I remember the press conference you gave which we saw there where you were so happy. And I talked to you in that period. But looking back on that, tell me first about after Jennifer was first born and obviously she was premature and very small but you were very excited weren't you?"

Gordon Brown: "We thought everything was fine. She had, she had been born prematurely but I'd been there at the birth. I'd seen this lovely baby. She was certainly getting special, special care in an incubator. But everybody was very positive and optimistic. And when I came out and talked to people it was with a sense that everything was fine. And it only gradually dawned on us. Nobody actually really told us for a week, it just gradually dawned on us that, that something, something was going wrong and she wasn't getting bigger, she wasn't growing and no matter what treatment that was being given to her she, she wasn't able to respond to it. And I could hold her, her hand and I, I could feel that she knew I was there and, and there was nothing that you could see that was, that was actually wrong but she just wasn't growing. And then probably after a week Sarah and I she was in the special, special care. I, I turned to the doctor and I said, 'She's not going to live is she?' And he said, 'No, I don't think so. She's not going to live.'

"And nobody had said anything about that before but I just sort of sensed that we just couldn't. So we had a weekend where we just knew that she was not going to, not going to survive. And she was baptised and we were with her and I held her as she, as she died. And it was, you know, Sarah and I just we find that very difficult because you know, it was our first child and she was such a beautiful baby and you couldn't see from anything that there was something so fundamentally wrong but she'd suffered a brain haemorrhage and, and we, we only found out after a week."

He added: "You know she would be nine this year and you know, you think all the time of the first steps, and the first words and the first time you go to school and it's just not been there.this is the happiest time of your life and then suddenly it becomes the most grief stricken time of your life. It was such a pendulum swing. You know, I couldn't listen to music, I, I really wasn't much interested in, in anything for a while because you had to come to terms with something that you know, you'd expect it would work out so completely differently."

Piers Morgan: "I remember Sarah too being I mean unbelievably strong."

Gordon Brown: "Our, partnership is so strong possibly because these events we've had, we've had to respond to together. But I mean Sarah was for a mother having borne a child for, for 9 months, having had an emergency operation, producing milk for that child and then to see that child go it's, I mean.my admiration and respect and love for Sarah just grew and grew and grew."

Later Piers asked: "When your second son Fraser was born everything again seemed fine but then he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. That must have been a hammer blow to you given what had already happened with Jennifer?"

Gordon Brown: "I'm afraid what you do is what all parents probably would do now, you, if you've got a computer you go on to the website and say a doctor said it's Cystic Fibrosis. What is it? And you look at this website which is so pessimistic and says you know, 'Likelihood of years lived very low, no known cure for this disease,' And you feel, 'What has happened?' And then you say, 'Well, this is a challenge. This is a real challenge.'.And the treatment for cystic fibrosis has changed so fundamentally. It's all about exercise, about fitness, about using your lungs, about stopping your lungs deteriorating. And of course for some that'll end up on a lung transplant or something like that. But for others it may be that the new treatments that are available are actually going to make it a lot better.

"So life expectancy from Cystic Fibrosis is growing all the time. And so we are, we are very confident. We're very, we're very optimistic that this, this new, new kind of treatment is, is going to make a difference and we've, we've got a boy that is, he loves climbing in trees. He loves sport. He loves trampolining. He can swim and we got him swimming really, really young. "

Piers Morgan: "Do you ever, do you and Sarah ever feel angry about what's happened?"

Gordon Brown: "We sometimes say well why, why, why, why us? You know, why did this happen to us? But when, when you think about it I mean we, we are able to do things for Fraser and we are able to help someone who's got that condition. So again I feel we've been pretty fortunate in life because although we've had these tragedies we've been given the privilege of having a son even though we lost a daughter and then our second son which nobody thought that that would be possible either. So we, we feel pretty fortunate."

Piers Morgan: "Tell me about this plane journey that Sarah was on about where you first move in."

Gordon Brown: "You, you might say love at first flight. I don't know. I don't know."

Piers Morgan: "You didn't join the mile high club did you?"

Gordon Brown: "No. We were sitting next to each other watched by all sorts of other people on the flight all the time. Sarah was on this flight and happened to be sitting next to me and I suppose a bore would be someone just talking about yourself. And a gossip you'd be talking about lots of other people. But I just kept asking Sarah questions about herself. And just asked what she did and what, what was all the thing. Because I really didn't know much about her. I knew she existed but I didn't know much about her."

Piers Morgan: "Were you thinking, 'I could fancy you?'"

Gordon Brown: "I think she was, I thought she was very nice. She is, is very beautiful. Very elegant. And I was but I was talking to her and then look I, I was, I was then the next period of time I was in Scotland at, at weekends, I was in London during the week, I was going around the country, I then became Chancellor. All these things happened. And you know, it was only gradually I realised that this was a decision that we wanted to make together. And it was true it was on the first day of the Millennium that we decided, everybody was at the Dome at that time, so we were the only you know, everybody was celebrating."

Piers Morgan: "You made a very sensible decision."

Gordon Brown: "Were you not queuing up outside it?"

Piers Morgan: "No I wasn't. No."

Gordon Brown: "We, we were in Scotland it was a sort of wonderful day. We went back to that beach, took the kids there this year on January the 1st."

Piers Morgan: "This, this is real sort of you know, this is Darcy stuff isn't it? You're on a wild Scottish beach."

Gordon Brown: "It was pretty wild there."

Piers Morgan: "It's the start of the Millennium. The wind's blowing."

Gordon Brown: "Yes. And it was a good decision. And then we tried to keep it quiet."

Piers Morgan: "Yes but hang on a sec. Let's keep, keep on this beach for a minute. So how long have you been planning to pop the question?"

Gordon Brown: "Some time. Some time."

Piers Morgan: "Weeks, months?"

Gordon Brown: "No weeks in the sense that I'd ask then."

Piers Morgan: "But you had a plan right?"

Gordon Brown: "I had a plan and this was the...."

Piers Morgan: "Did you have the ring?"

Gordon Brown: "No and I've bought Sarah an eternity ring in compensation for having no ring on that day."

Piers Morgan: "And was it just because you were too tired to buy one or?"

Gordon Brown: "I didn't want people to know. And if I'd walked into a jeweller, the Chancellor, Chancellor of the Exchequer and say can I have a wedding ring and an engagement ring I think it, I think might have appeared in the papers. So, so it was quite, quite difficult. I, I got the wedding ring actually sent from, from American."

Piers Morgan: "Really?"

Gordon Brown: "Yes. And we tried to keep it quiet because I didn't want all this publicity."

Piers Morgan: "Hang on. I haven't left the beach yet Gordon. So we're on the beach."

Gordon Brown: "It's wonderful, wonderful. You should come and visit."

Piers Morgan: "I'd love to visit yes. So you're on the beach."

Gordon Brown: "Yes."

Piers Morgan: "Are you on bended knee?"

Gordon Brown: "No."

Piers Morgan: "Are you, are you standing face to face, holding hands?"

Gordon Brown: "We're holding hands yes."

Piers Morgan: "And what were the words?"

Gordon Brown: "Erm."

Piers Morgan: [to the audience] "You want to know don't you? I do."

Gordon Brown: "Well the words I want to get married soon and we should get married soon please."

Piers Morgan: "Very romantic. Please, you did say please?"

Gordon Brown: "Please."

Piers Morgan: "It wasn't like an instruction."

Piers added: "Did she say yes immediately?"

Gordon Brown: "Thankfully yes."

Piers Morgan: "And how did you feel?"

Gordon Brown: "Great. And then, we then, because this is 1st of January 2000."

Piers Morgan: "You keep wanting to leave the beach Gordon. I'm just, I'll tell you when we're leaving the beach."

Gordon Brown: "The weather wasn't, the weather wasn't, the weather wasn't that great."

Piers Morgan: "We're on the beach, you propose. This is one, this is one of the best moments of your life isn't it?"

Gordon Brown: "Yes."

Piers Morgan: "Why the rush? Let's slow things down here. So you're on the beach and you propose to the love of your life."

Gordon Brown: "I'm going to, I'm going to ask you some questions about your engagement."

Piers Morgan: "Yes that's absolutely fine. We won't use it. But you can ask me."

Piers Morgan: "So you're on the beach, you're proposing to the love of your life."

Gordon Brown: "Yes."

Piers Morgan: "And she accepts. I mean this is a big deal isn't it?"

Gordon Brown: "It, it is a great love story, Sarah and I. And I'm really proud that she accepted and we've got stronger and I think every year we, and every day life, life gets better. I feel very, very fortunate."

Piers Morgan: "How many times had you been in love before?"

Gordon Brown: "I loved...."

Piers Morgan: "Because you were in your late 40s."

Gordon Brown: "I'd had lots of girlfriends but the person I wanted to marry was Sarah."

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