What about the person alleged to have paid the bribe?

What about the person alleged to have paid the bribe?

    Is Blair’s holiday host set to lose his job?

While all the UK focus has been on whether Tessa Jowell will survive and what impact her departure would have on the Blair premiership the affair is hardly getting any coverage in Italy itself even though the core allegation is that the Prime Minster paid a bribe to Jowell’s now estranged husband, David Mills.

For the big issue in Italy is whether blair -berlesconi.JPGthe Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi will hold onto his job in the elections next month.

So far the polls do not seem to be in favour of the media tycoon turned politician who is very close to Blair and hosted him and his family at his Sardinian mansion for their summer vacation only eighteen months ago.

On the the betting markets punters are rating the Silvio Berlusconi chances at 2.3/1 while Romano Prodi is a heavy odds-on favourite at 0.42/1 to be his country’s next Prime Minister.

The close personal links between Tony Blair and his Italian counterpart have never really become an issue in the UK.

    It would be ironic if Berlusconi’s financial dealings with the spouse of one of his Cabinet ministers eventually causes Blair more damage than his close relationship with the leader said to have paid the cash.

For if Tessa Jowell has to step down then that could hasten Blair’s departure time-table. The latest prices in the “When will Blair go?” betting has seen a further easing of the post-January 1 2008 price to 2.7/1.

Mike Smithson

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