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Blair starts Downing Street departure countdown

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Blair starts Downing Street departure countdown

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Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair is stepping down on June 27, after more than ten years in power. He made the announcement to party faithful at his Sedgefield constituency in the North-East of England. One legacy – among others – is the brokering of peace in Northern Ireland.

But he will also be remembered for leading the UK into the Iraq war, a move which was far from universally popular. “I may have been wrong. That’s your call. But believe one thing if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country,” he said, “and I came into office with high hopes for Britain’s future – and you know, I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain’s future. This is a country that can today be excited by the opportunities, not constantly fretful of the dangers. And people say to me: It’s a tough job. Not really. A tough life is the life led by the young severely disabled children and their parents who visited me in Parliament the other week.”

He will also be remembered as the first serving Premier to be questionned by police in a criminal investigation, when he was interviewed over the so-called cash-for-honours scandal. In power for more than ten years, he is the second longest serving premier in the past century. He is expected to return to the House of Commons as a backbench MP, and the Chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to take his place as Labour leader after internal elections.