Cameron Denies Saying He Ever Wanted to Be ‘the Heir to Blair’

David Cameron distanced himself from former Prime Minister Tony Blair, saying he views him as a political opponent, after a U.K. magazine reported that Blair was planning a large donation to the opposition Labour Party.

Speaking to reporters in Bethlehem today after the two men met to discuss the Middle East peace process, the premier denied making a comment attributed to him in 2005 that he wanted to be “the heir to Blair.” At the time, Cameron was running for the leadership of his Conservative Party after its third election defeat at the hands of Labour under Blair.

“That’s not something I ever recall saying,” Cameron told the BBC. “I wanted to be the replacement to Tony Blair.” In his early days as Tory leader, Cameron positioned himself as a more natural successor to Blair than Gordon Brown, who took over as Labour premier in 2007, offering support for many of Blair’s policies, including on education, that Brown resisted.

The New Statesman reported earlier this month that Blair was planning a “significant donation” to Labour in a sign of approval of efforts by its current leader, Ed Miliband, to reduce the influence of labor unions within the party.

After meeting Blair, who is now a peace envoy to the Middle East, in East Jerusalem, Cameron denied the two men were friends. “I wouldn’t say it is about friendship,” he told Sky News. “We were very vigorous opponents. We come from different political parties, different political traditions and there are many things we disagreed about.”

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