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Blair to make 'definitive' statement on stepping down next week

Blair to make 'definitive' statement on stepping down next week

Prime Minister Tony Blair will next week spell out his timetable for stepping down after a decade in office, he said Tuesday.
Blair also said that a Scot would likely be the next prime minister _ though he stopped short of formally endorsing Gordon Brown. His comments suggested that the Treasury chief, who is Scottish, remained the Labour Party's choice for Britain's next leader.
"One of the things I very much hope will be part of the legacy of the government is the strongest economy in the Western world which (Brown) has been responsible for," Blair told the breakfast program GMTV before leaving for a campaign stop in Edinburgh. "I have always said about him that he would make a great prime minister and I believe that."
Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of Labour's sweep to power in 1997. Led by Blair and Brown, Labour ousted the Conservatives, who had been in government for 18 years.
Blair said that his decade as prime minister had been a "privilege" and that he would announce next week his plans for stepping down.
"I will make my position clear next week. I will say something definitive then," he said.
After his TV interview, Blair left to campaign in Scotland, one of the key battlegrounds in local elections on Thursday. The pro-independence Scottish National Party is polling well, and the Labour Party is fighting to keep control of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
In Scotland, Blair marked another milestone: the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union, which bound together the kingdoms of England and Scotland.
"This day, when we celebrate 300 years of our countries working together, do we say this is the moment to shatter it asunder?" Blair said, attacking the SNP.
Blair called on the Scottish electorate not to vote for the break up of the United Kingdom and reminded the audience that he was born in Edinburgh to a Scottish father and an Irish mother.
"I was born in Scotland and lived my life in England," he told party activists. "This narrow nationalism _ you can dress it up any way you want, but it is, was, and always will be destructive and reactionary."
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Associated Press Writer Jennifer Quinn in London contributed to this report.


Updated : 2020-12-01 08:10 GMT+08:00