This article asks, ‘how do practitioners understand the relationship between the prime minister, ministers and the rest of Westminster and Whitehall?’ We focus on three topics. First, we review tales of a Blair presidency. Second, we explore the governance paradox in which people tell tales of a Blair presidency as they recount stories of British governance that portray it as fragmented with several decision-makers. Finally, we argue that this paradox reveals the distorting influence the Westminster model still exerts on many accounts of British politics. It acts as a smokescreen for the changes in executive politics.