Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Grim-faced: Blair making a statement of his intentions yesterday at a north London school

I'll quit within a year, but I'll not say when: Blair

TONY Blair yesterday promised to step down as Prime Minister within 12 months in a bid to fend off critics calling for him to quit.

TONY Blair yesterday promised to step down as Prime Minister within 12 months in a bid to fend off critics calling for him to quit.

In his first public declaration of when he will leave No 10, Mr Blair said the next Labour conference would be his last.

But he refused to give a definite departure date, saying he would do so at a future time.

Chancellor Gordon Brown, speaking before Mr Blair's comments, said the timing of the Prime Minister's resignation was a matter for him.

But the premier's commitment to go within a year was not enough to silence some of his opponents in the party.

MP Doug Henderson, a close ally of Mr Brown, said it was not clear that the electorate now knew any more about the Prime Minister's intentions than they did before his statement.

Mr Blair, in his on-camera statement to the Press Association said: "The first thing I would like to do is to apologise, actually, on behalf of the Labour Party for the last week, which with everything that is going on back here and in the world, has not been our finest hour to be frank.

"But I think what is important now is that we understand that it's the interests of the country that come first and we move on.

"Now, as for my timing and date of departure, I would have preferred to do this in my own way, but ... the next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader, the TUC next week will be my last TUC, probably to the relief of both of us."

Mr Brown, at a separate press conference said that the timing of the handover should not be about "private arrangements" but about the interests of the Labour Party and the country.

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