Governments in the Middle East and around the world are said to be 'tense and concerned' after Gordon Brown approached Tony Blair at the weekend and asked: "when are you resigning as peace envoy?"
Sources close to Mr Brown are claiming that he and Mr Blair reached a deal in 2006 that Mr Blair would move on after four or five years, handing over to his former Chancellor. But Mr Blair's aides deny that such an agreement would ever have been struck. 'There's no way Tony could have reached such a deal,' said a spokesman. 'You only have to look at how little he's managed to achieve between Israel and Palestine to see that there's still not a snowball's chance in hell of agreeing to anything with Gordon.'
Diplomats and officials across the region and in Western capitals were scrambling to relieve tensions after Mr Brown's comments were overheard while he was making a phone call from the back of his car. 'It's that Sue's fault,' said Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 'When is she going to remember to turn his bloody microphone off, the silly cow?'
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, was more sanguine. 'Maybe Gordon Brown wouldn't be all that bad,' he said. 'We were worried that John Prescott would be next - he stood in for Tony for a week last summer and ended up causing two Intifadas and punching the prime minister of Lebanon in the face. I'd rather have a mobile phone thrown at me than go through all that again.'