“Persson is lying” – Carl Bildt

In the latest instalment of a series of interviews with Göran Persson, the former prime minister claims to have offered current Foreign Minister Carl Bildt a range of jobs when he resigned as leader of the Moderate Party in 1999. But Bildt, writing in his blog, immediately rejected the assertion as a "fantastical fable".

The second programme in the series ‘Chairman Persson’ – or ‘Persson’s Gossip’ as some have begun to dub it – went under the name ‘Post-presidency depression’. The title refers to the state in which Persson found himself after Sweden’s EU presidency.

Mona Sahlin and Carl Bildt both came under fire in the first instalment, which attracted 1.3 million viewers. On Tuesday evening, Bildt was again on the receiving end. But he was not alone: Gudrun Schyman, the former Left Party leader with whom Persson co-operated for five years, also took a direct hit.

“She is somebody I would never trust if the country found itself in a crisis.

“She leaves a disharmonious and immature impression,” said Persson.

According to the former prime minister, Schyman lost her temper at a meeting of party leader’s ahead of the Swedish EU presidency. When the discussion reached the government’s views regarding prostitution, Schyman decided she had heard enough.

“She came out with a violent attack on men in general, screaming ‘don’t think that you can just fuck around however you want’. It was a very strange diatribe,” said Persson.

With regard to Bildt’s resignation, Persson accuses the Moderate politician of abusing his seat in parliament and “burning his bridges”. According to Persson, Bildt’s international career was as good as over.

“I feel responsible for him. We have offered him several jobs but he has turned them down,” said Persson.

The Social Democrat government is said to have offered Bildt a position as head of the Swedish aviation authority, Luftfartsverket. When this did not tempt him, the government suggested the post of vice chairman of the European Investment Bank.

The foreign minister however denies being offered employment by the government after he resigned. In a furious denial posted on his blog, Bildt called Persson’s version of events “a fantastical fable”.

“The kernel of truth in it is that that Persson once called me – while I was still party leader! – and asked whether he could put me forward as the vice chairman of the European Investment Bank.

“I thought that the whole thing was strange and said no,” he said.

Persson also directs criticism at the former Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat. Bill Clinton confided in Persson his opinion that Arafat had helped Ariel Sharon come to power in Israel, a view which Persson said he shared.