Thursday, 10 May 2007

Blair Announces He Will Stand Down on 27 June

After briefing the Cabinet on his plans Blair made the announcement he would stand down as Prime Minister in a speech to party activists in his Sedgefield constituency. Blair will stay on in Downing Street until the Labour Party elects a new leader who is expected to be Gordon Brown.
In an emotional speech, Mr Blair said he had been prime minister for 10 years which was "long enough" for the country and himself. He thanked the British people for their support and apologised for when "I have fallen short". Blair acknowledged his government had not always lived up to high expectations but said that he had been "very blessed" to lead "the greatest nation on earth". He wen t on to add "I did what I thought was right for our country," Mr Blair said, summing up his record. I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future, and, you know, I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future." In conclusion, he said: "Actually I've been lucky and very blessed. And this country is a blessed nation. The British are special - the world knows it, in our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth."

Shortly after Mr Blair's announcement, the deputy prime minister and deputy Labour leader John Prescott also announced his intention to stand down.

Brown, who is expected to launch his campaign for leadership Friday, said of Blair: "I think I spoke for millions when I said at Cabinet today that Tony Blair's achievements are unique, unprecedented and enduring." He went on to add that Mr Blair's legacy would also be better public services and a strong economy adding "Britain's reputation in the world is stronger than ever before. At all times he tried to do the right thing".

Conservative leader David Cameron posted his reaction to Blair's speech on his website. He said: "I think a lot of people will look back on the last 10 years of dashed hopes and big disappointments, of so much promised so little delivered." Mr Cameron has said the country faces seven weeks of "paralysis" until Labour chooses a new top team, accusing Mr Blair of running a government of the "living dead".

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell joined Cameron in criticizing Blair. He said that he thought Mr Blair's speech was "defensive, defiant, and even chauvinist at the end talking about Great Britain as being the best country in the world".

Only time will tell whose account of the "Blair Years" will go down in history. However one thing is certain, it was time for Blair to go.

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