Thursday, 26 August 2010

'Who do you love more? Me or the Blackberry?' What Tony Blair was asked by son Leo, 10

By Matthew Kalman
DAILY MAIL 26th August 2010

Tony Blair has revealed in an interview with an Israeli daily newspaper that his globetrotting has left him missing his wife Cherie and children, especially 10-year-old Leo.

The former prime minister, who is currently a Middle East envoy, also denied in the interview that his London business will act as a fund for the super rich and is sanguine about missing out on becoming the first EU president.

Speaking to the Calcalist Hebrew language business daily, Mr Blair, who bought his first mobile on leaving Downing Street, said: 'Today my Blackberry is everything to me, so much so that one day Leo asked me: 'Dad, who do you love more, me or the phone?'

Tony and Leo Blair

Proud father: Tony Blair has revealed that he was heavily involved in son Leo's upbringing in Downing Street, but that his globetrotting means he misses his family

'But nowadays I don’t really have a choice but to stay connected to it all the time. It’s my way of keeping in touch with home when I’m here,' said Mr Blair, who spends one week each month in Jerusalem.

'It’s what makes it even possible for me to do what I’m doing. – to travel around the world and stay in touch with home.'

And despite Mr Blair's travels across the globe, he has said that he was very hands on during the upbringing of his youngest son at 10 Downing Street.

'Oh, I was very involved. Leo was a great blessing, really a gift from God, and as happy as I was when he was born I was also mature enough to understand that. I changed nappies, I read bedtime stories.

'The experience of fatherhood was completely different, and not because I was prime minister but because Cherie and I had him at a relatively late age, when I was 47.'

However his new role has seen him having to take a step back, with an admission that he doesn't see Leo enough.

'When I was in Number 10 I saw him more because we all lived together in the same house. Today I am travelling most of the time and so naturally contact with him is harder.'

But Mr Blair has no intention of stopping, saying he is working harder now than during his ten-year premiership and that finds it easier to concentrate on matters that really interest him now he no longer has an entire country to run.

Tony and Cherie Blair

Globetrotter: Mr Blair and his wife Cherie visited Bangladesh last week, but his jet-setting lifestyle means he rarely sees his wife and children

He continued: 'I stopped being prime minister at a relatively young age. At the time, I didn’t even consider retirement and I continued doing things and I feel I still have things to do.

'I am delighted with the role that the Quartet has given me and with the opportunity to help solve a conflict which on the one hand is so explosive and on the other hand whose solution is so simple in my view, two states for two people.'

And when his current diplomatic role ends, Blair says he has no intention of quitting public life adding: 'It’s not even under consideration. Or as one friend said: Retired is expired.'

But with his new London business already experienced controversy, he has strongly denied that it will act as a bank for the super-rich.

'I have no interest in managing other people’s money,' he said. 'I am not an investment banker and it’s not something I am doing or intend to do.'

Mr Blair doesn't seem to be disappointed about not becoming the first EU president as was predicted.

''To be the president of Europe would have been a wonderful thing, but apparently it was not meant to happen.

'Anyway, even now I am not with my family as much as I would like to be, so I would like to devote the energy and the time I have left to them.'

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