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Prime Minister for a Paternity Leave

Will Mr. Brown see his ambition of leading Britain fulfilled as Mr. Blair goes about his fatherly duties?

March 30, 2000

Will Mr. Brown see his ambition of leading Britain fulfilled as Mr. Blair goes about his fatherly duties?

Gordon Brown, Tony Blair's strategic mate and the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, has a grudge. He wants to be Prime Minister. Remember, he stepped aside only reluctantly for the more telegenic Mr. Blair at the time when Labour elected its new leader in 1994.

Recent rumors have it that Gordon Brown likes to pattern himself on Sir Robert Walpole. Sir Robert was what might be considered the first British Prime Minister, holding office for over twenty years (1721-1742). During that time he substantially added to the powers of his office after having initially been vested with the post of First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Historic parallels are nice, but they still do not solve the main problem: how to get rid of a very popular Prime Minister who does not have any known scandals or skeletons in his closet?

Enter, Cherie Blair, Tony's wife. In her forties, she is pregnant with her fourth child and about to raise the first baby in 10 Downing Street in generations. This is not exactly news, neither would it leave an impressive mark on British history. Rather, it would only add to the anecdote section. However, this is the 21st century — and Mrs. Blair is a 21st century woman. Accordingly, she wishes for her husband to take paternity leave once number four has arrived in number ten.

Cherie Blair, after all, is an employment rights lawyer — and also an ardent supporter of parental leave. Yet, when asked publicly about his wife's request, the Queen's first minister appeared somewhat baffled. Asked what he thought of his wife's suggestions, he very uncharacteristically stuttered something about the need to discuss that with his wife, and that he needed to make sure that the country was properly run… .

Apparently, it had never dawned on him what a genius his wife really is. She has it in her power to make Gordon Brown Prime Minister for the duration of a parental leave, and afterwards return her Tony to the high post.

Thus everybody wins. She can see Tony change nappies, while Gordon gets to play daddy for the entire British nation. And Cherie may make history without ever holding office — by arranging a temporary swap in the office of the Prime Minister.