Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott insisted that he would not be quitting amid all the controversy surrounding him. There has been a growing issue regarding his involvement with US gambling tycoon Philip Anschutz bidding to set up a super casino at the Millennium Dome in London, with evidence against him piling up.
Prescott also lost much of his credibility in April after admitting to indulging in an extra marital affair with his diary secretary, wherein which he was relieved of his departmental responsibilities by Prime Minister Tony Blair. He has also been trying to distance himself from rumors circulating on the Internet of a number of other flings.
The latest in a string of controversies is ill-timed for Prescott as he is supposed to assume responsibility for running the country towards the end of July while the prime minister is on holiday.
Prescott played down his involvement with the US billionaire Anshcutz saying that they did not discuss anything relating to the negotiations on the Millennium Dome, and that they were mostly discussing a ‘hobby’.
“My contact with Philip Anschutz relates solely to the use of the Dome post-sale in terms of the regeneration of the area and Mr. Anschutz’s interest in William Wilberforce, a former Hull MP and slavery abolitionist about whom Mr Anschutz is making a film as I am personally involved in the 2007 abolition bicentenary,” Prescott defended in a statement.
He likewise denied the suggestions that he wielded improper influence regarding the casino bid after parliamentary investigations revealed this week that he has met up with Anschutz six more times prior to his and members of his staff’s stay in the casino mogul’s Colorado ranch in the USA.
The deputy prime minister was stern in his reply when he publicly spoke for the first time since being first asked about his involvement with Anschutz. “I will get on with doing my job and I am not leaving it, I am getting on with it,” he told the BBC radio, even banging the studio furniture for emphasis.
Prescott was also apologetic for the extra marital affair that he had with Tracey Temple, his diary secretary that was 24 years his junior. He admitted that it had generated bad publicity for the Labour Party in which he belongs, and the government itself.
“I am very sorry for what has happened. I do believe in a way it’s not been good for my party or government. Of course I am conscious of that,” Prescott said.
“All my life has been that, I have never had another job, I had never had a penny off anyone else, all I’ve done is this job, but when I get involved, as I have been, in these incidents, I am extremely sorry,” the deputy prime minister added.