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Sunday, 21 November, 1999, 00:44 GMT
Blair baby 'better than election win'
Cherie Blair says she 'feels great'

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the new baby he and his wife Cherie are expecting is personally "more important than winning the last election".

"Cherie did say when she told me the news that it was the first time she had properly understood the meaning of the phrase 'the jaw hit the floor'," he told the Observer newspaper.


I cannot say I am wildly looking forward to changing nappies
Tony Blair
"So if it's possible to be delighted and shell-shocked at the same time, that is what I was because this was not expected, not expected at all."

He has admitted to slight qualms at the prospect of becoming a parent again.

Mr Blair said that both he and Cherie were worried about the fact she had become pregnant at the relatively late age of 45, but added that they had not considered an abortion.

The couple already have two sons, Euan, 15, and Nicky, 14 and a daughter, Kathryn, 11.

He admitted that it had been hard having to make his party conference speech in Bournemouth just 24 hours after his wife's doctor had confirmed that she was pregnant.

Despite his prime ministerial duties, he said he expected to take his share of getting up at night if the child cried.

"It always seemed to be my turn to get up in the middle of the night last time we had children. I do not know if this will have changed in the 12 or 11 years since," he said.

The Blairs already have three children
But he said he was less enthusiastic about the prospect of changing nappies again. "I cannot say I am wildly looking forward to that aspect, but the fact is we are both very happy about it," he said.

The Blairs have arrived in Florence where a seminar on modern centre-left politics is being held.

They attended a dinner with other world leaders and their partners, including US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.

The American First Lady was among the first to telephone Downing Street to congratulate Mrs Blair.

Sunday's seminar will focus on what Mr Blair calls the Third Way, a balance between unrestrained capitalism and old-fashioned socialism.


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See also:
19 Nov 99 |  UK
Blairs' surprise over baby
19 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Baby cynics question timing
19 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Conceived by a spin doctor?
19 Nov 99 |  UK
Cherie: Lawyer, wife and mum
19 Nov 99 |  Health
Pregnancy risks increase with age
19 Nov 99 |  UK
Cherie to join the 40-something mums

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