Gordon Brown took over as
Britain's new prime minister after his long-time political friend and rival,
Tony Blair stepped down just hours earlier, after 10 years in office. VOA's
Sonja Pace reports from London on the transfer of power and on Mr. Blair's
appointment as special international peace envoy to the Middle East.It was a day of political tradition, ceremony and
drama, the official transfer of power from one prime minister to
Returning from his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham
Palace, Gordon Brown came to his new official residency, Number 10 Downing
Street, and he promised new priorities.
"I have just accepted the invitation of her Majesty the Queen to form a new
government," said Mr. Brown. "This will be a new government with new
Mr. Brown vowed to reach out beyond what he called narrow party interests.
Just hours earlier, his predecessor, Tony Blair made his last appearance in
the House of Commons.
Mr. Blair opened the session on a sober note, expressing condolences to the
families of three British servicemen killed in action.
"I am truly sorry
about the dangers they face today in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know some may
think they face these dangers in vain. I don't and I never will," said Mr.
Mr. Blair has remained steadfast in his support for intervention in
Afghanistan and in Iraq, even amid increasing public opposition.
Over the years, he faced many tough questions in this chamber, especially
from the opposition Conservative party.
Yet on this day, there were also tributes, including from Conservative party
leader, David Cameron.
"For 13 years he has led his party, for 10 years he has led our country and
no one can be in any doubt in terms of the huge efforts he has made, in terms of
public service," said Mr. Cameron. "He has considerable achievements to his
credit, whether it is peace in Northern Ireland, whether it is his work in the
developing world, which I know will endure."
And, in the end Mr. Blair also paid tribute to his colleagues in the House of
"I can pay the House the greatest compliment I can by saying that from the
first to last I never stopped fearing it," he added. "That tingling apprehension
that I felt at three minutes to twelve today I felt as much 10 years ago and
every bit as acute. And it is in that fear, the respect is contained."
Amid a standing ovation in the House of Commons, Tony Blair left the chamber.
He returned to 10 Downing Street for final farewells to staff member before
heading to Buckingham Palace to formally hand in his resignation to the Queen.
Shortly thereafter, Gordon Brown was summoned for a private audience with the
Queen to be confirmed as Britain's new prime minister.
And, within hours the announcement from the United Nations that Tony Blair
has been named as representative to the so-called Middle East Quartet - made up
of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The
Quartet seeks to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.