Tony Blair announces intention to resign
After months indeed years of speculation, becoming ever more frenzied towards the end, Tony Blair finally gave the date when he would leave office. Not in the Commons; not in the studios of the Today Programme; not in an address to the nation: but in Trimdon Labour Club in his Sedgefield constituency.
In what became a very emotional speech Mr Blair had the grace to apologize for the times when he had fallen short, but was absolutely insistent that he had always acted as he felt was right. He also accepted that judgement of his decade as PM was for the people to make.
By announcing June 27 as the day of his resignation Blair finally left the way clear for his friend and long term rival Gordon Brown to succeed him. The two had taken their party on from the recovery phase begun under Neil Kinnock and John Smith , to reasonable health, and eventually blooming fitness. They won three elections together, brought in major constitutional reform by sweeping the hereditary peers from holding any meaningful political power; and introduced the minimum wage. They also saw the UK entangled in the seemingly endless conflict in Iraq.
May 10 was like a starting gun in several ways: demands for a general election were made and went unheeded; some of Blair’s supporters suddenly had nothing but praise for Gordon Brown; the press had carte blanche for speculation about the future Brown government. And between that date and June 27 Tony Blair seemed to shed years, silent proof for Gordon Brown of the old saw “be careful what you wish for.”
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