Stephens takes time out from FT for Blair book

Financial Times UK editor Philip Stephens is taking a sabbatical to write a book about Tony Blair.

On his return to the newspaper in September he will work as a columnist, writing a weekly article about British politics and a second about wider international affairs.

FT editor Andrew Gowers will take on Stephens’ responsibilities and news editor Robert Shrimsley will also play an “enhanced role” in promoting UK coverage.

Stephens said he decided to write the book on the Prime Minister, which will be published in the US, when he realised there weren’t any existing titles aimed specifically at the American market.

“I was in the States in the spring and was struck by the immensely high level of interest in Blair. Everyone from the bellhop in the hotel to people at dinner parties wanted to talk about him. The existing biographies don’t really travel.

“I have known Blair since 1986 and was political editor of the Financial Times from 1988 until 1994.

“I did the first interview with him when he stood for the leadership.”

He had already planned to leave the UK editor’s role to concentrate on writing after he oversaw the revamp of the edition in April.

“It was time to move on,” he said.

By Mary Stevens

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