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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
Prescott quits as deputy leader
John Prescott
John Prescott said he was proud to have done the job for 10 years

John Prescott has announced he is to resign as deputy leader of the Labour Party after 13 years.

Mr Prescott, who always said he would stand down when Tony Blair did, made a formal announcement in an open letter and then told his constituency party.

"To have been deputy leader and the longest serving deputy prime minister is a matter of great pride to me," he wrote to party members in Hull East.

He said he would follow Mr Blair's move and step down on 27 June.

Speaking after his meeting in Hull, Mr Prescott addressed reporters holding his Labour Party pledge card.

Millions of people have benefited and that's what I believe a Labour government promised in 1997 and that's what I believe we have delivered
John Prescott
Deputy Prime Minister

He said: "I'm extremely proud to have belonged to this government.

"I've brought out my old pledge card - tell me another party who has been able to deliver on all the promises they made in 1997?

"But more important it is the policies that have shown that economic prosperity and social justice can come together."

He added: "And it's my old saying...traditional values in a modern setting. That is what has governed this party and I'm proud to have been the deputy prime minister and I'm proud to have been deputy leader in those 10 years.

"Millions of people have benefited and that's what I believe a Labour government promised in 1997 and that's what I believe we have delivered".

With his departure confirmed, the race to replace him has begun.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, party chairwoman Hazel Blears and backbencher Jon Cruddas have all said they will run for the deputy leadership.

Kyoto pride

But while Mr Prescott is both deputy leader of the party, and deputy prime minister, it is not known if the two roles will continue to be combined.

Within hours of Mr Prescott's announcement, both Mr Hain and Ms Harman said they had the required 45 backers to get onto the ballot paper.

Meanwhile Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms have declared their support for Hilary Benn.

Mr Prescott has been an MP since 1970 and deputy prime minister since 1997.

In the letter to his constituency he said he was proud of his achievements on transport, jobs and in helping to secure the Kyoto agreement on climate change.

He also thanked his constituents for their support.

John Prescott makes a speech at the Congress for the New Urbanism convention
He has never shied away from making sure that the party's view is represented at the highest level and he always stands up for what he believes in
Peter Watt
Labour Party general secretary

He added: "Tony and I were elected together back in 1994 and it has been an honour to serve as deputy to the most successful Labour prime minister ever.

"To have been deputy leader and the longest serving deputy prime minister is a matter of great pride to me."

At last year's Labour conference, Mr Prescott apologised for letting the party down, following controversies over an affair with his diary secretary, and receiving hospitality from a US tycoon.

But Peter Watt, the Labour Party's general secretary said Mr Prescott was a "party man" first and foremost, who had been a superb deputy leader.

"He has never shied away from making sure that the party's view is represented at the highest level and he always stands up for what he believes in," he said.






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