Irish Republican News · May 10, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Blair announces resignation
Blair announces resignation

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced his decision to stand down as leader of the British Labour Party. Mr Blair made the announcement to supporters in his Sedgefield constituency in England.

He said he would resign as Prime Minister on June 27.

“Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of the Labour Party,” he said.

“The party will now select a new leader. On the 27th of June I will tender my resignation from the post of Prime Minister to the Queen.”

Mr Blair added: “I have been Prime Minister of this country for just over 10 years. In this job, in the world today, I think that is long enough for me, but more especially for the country.

“Sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down.”

The announcement triggers a Labour leadership contest that Chancellor Gordon Brown is favourite to win. Labour’s national executive committee is expected to meet within 48 hours of today’s announcement to confirm the detailed timetable for the contest.

Mr Blair’s official spokesman said that Gordon Brown offered thanks and appreciation to the Prime Minister for his “unique achievements in the last 10 years and the unique leadership he had given the party, Britain and the world”. This was greeted by thumping of the table and clapping, he said.

The decision followed international praise for Mr Blair for the restoration of the Belfast Assembly, reflecting significant progress in the peace process in Ireland.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern paid tribute to Blair today by saying he had left “a priceless legacy of peace and agreement”.

In a statement, Mr Ahern said he had been privileged to have worked with Mr Blair on the peace process and to have forged “an unprecedented partnership” that “made a real difference” to the relationship between Britain and Ireland.

“Tony Blair has been a friend to Ireland. And I am proud also to count him as a friend of mine,” he said.

The Taoiseach said the British leader leaves office “with an honoured place in Irish history”.

“From his first days as prime minister he devoted unprecedented time and attention to bringing the appalling conflict in Northern Ireland to an end,” he said.

“The Good Friday Agreement stands as a noble testament to his commitment to address the problem of Northern Ireland in a fair and balanced way.

“The ending of his term of office coincides with the success finally achieved at Stormont on May 8th,” Mr Ahern said.

The Deputy First Minister in the new northern Executive, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, said that many will recognise Mr Blair’s positive contribution to the development of the peace process.

“As an Irish republican I am committed to challenging the approach of the British government here and ending their presence in this part of Ireland,” he said.

“We have consistently challenged the approach of the British government in Ireland, particularly on the refusal to tackle the issue of British state collusion and the murder of citizens here. We have also made clear out total opposition to the war in Iraq.

“But I think everyone will recognise the positive contribution that Tony Blair has made to the development of the Irish Peace Process. In this he was qualitatively different from all of his predecessors.”

© 2007 Irish Republican News