years after sweeping into power in Britain, an increasingly unpopular Tony Blair
will announce on Thursday when he plans to step aside and allow finance minister
Gordon Brown to take over
as prime minister.
will be remembered for helping bring peace to Northern Ireland after decades of
violence, winning three straight elections for Labour for the first time and
dragging his party away from its left-wing roots to the center of British
But he leaves office out of favor among voters and within his party for
sending British troops to Iraq in 2003. A Labour rebellion in September forced
him to say he would quit within a year.
He had long been expected to hand over power before the end of this third
term to let another Labour leader pilot the party into the next election,
expected in 2009.
Brown, whose official residence is next door to Blair's in London's Downing
Street, has waited with increasing impatience for the departure of his neighbor.
Critics say their rivalry, often bitter, has diluted the government's
Blair quits as only the second prime minister in a century to have served 10
years, tainted by a corruption scandal in which he became the first serving
prime minister to be quizzed by police in a criminal probe.
His spokesman said Blair will make a statement about his future on Thursday.
The prime minister will attend a cabinet meeting in London and then fly to his
constituency in northern England to speak to local supporters.
Blair and Brown were the twin architects of Labour's rise to power in 1997
after 18 years in the political wilderness and Britain's long-serving finance
minister is now certain to finally get the job he has coveted for so long.
His chief challenge will be to revive support for Labour and overhaul the
opposition Conservatives in the opinion polls before the next election.
Brown is widely respected for presiding over a decade of strong economic
growth and for granting independence to Britain's central bank to set interest
He has also overseen huge increases in spending on education and health. But
Labour has not been rewarded by the electorate for its public service spending
and Brown does not have the charismatic charm that helped Blair rule for a
over as prime minister：接任首相