Blair says the British 'can't make a decent cup of tea'

By JAMES CHAPMAN

Last updated at 22:00 18 May 2007


Just last week Tony Blair was hailing Britain as the "greatest nation on earth".

But yesterday - in a sign of his dwindling focus on world events as he heads for retirement - the Prime Minister found the time to complain about one celebrated British tradition.

Mr Blair moaned that it was impossible to find a decent cup of tea in London any more and set out his requirements for a perfect brew.

"This is a British tradition that must not be lost," said Mr Blair, speaking at the end of the first leg of his "farewell" world tour in Washington.

"If I were running for office again, I'd make it a major part of my platform.

"It's got to be properly strong. It's got to have the right colour. The trouble is, not many people do it like that."

His remarks, made during an interview for US radio, stirred up a proverbial storm in a teacup.

Christopher Cowdray, general manager at London's Dorchester hotel, which won the Tea Council's Top Tea Place award last month, said: "I beg to differ with Mr Blair.

"We welcome guests from all over the world, some of whom come to the Dorchester especially to enjoy this quintessentially British tradition."

Tory frontbencher Jacqui Lait said: "You can always get a good cup of tea in the House of Commons. It just shows how little time Mr Blair spends in the House."

But Mr Blair, having stirred up trouble with British tea drinkers, went on to land himself in hot water on the continent.

"I drink coffee when I'm in mainland Europe," he said, "because they just can't make a cup of tea."

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