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Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK
Blair to take 'paternity holiday'
Tony and Cherie Blair
Third way: The Blairs will spend more time together
Prime Minister Tony Blair is to wind down his work commitments when his fourth child is born, he has confirmed in a newspaper interview.

I want to spend more time with Cherie when the kid is born

Tony Blair
But he stopped short of taking paternity leave, as favoured by his wife Cherie.

In an interview with The Observer, Mr Blair said that he could not be expected to take a complete break when the baby, due next month, is born.

Instead, he would go into "holiday mode", where he did less work.

Mr Blair told the paper: "I don't ever stop being prime minister, even when I'm on holiday I do several hours a day.

Tony Blair: Appealed for privacy for his family
"But of course I want to spend more time with Cherie when the kid is born to help out and I will do that.

"I don't know if that makes me taking paternity leave or not but it is just the common sense of the situation."

The prime minister went on: "I obviously will try as much as possible to cut down in that period what I'm doing. But I have to run the country, that still has to go on."

His remarks seem to end the speculation about whether he would become one of the first high profile men to take advantage of new laws allowing paternity leave.

Mrs Blair has made it clear she thinks her husband should follow the example of the Finnish prime minister, and take some leave when their baby is born.

Good example

New rights introduced in December allow mothers and fathers to have 13 unpaid weeks off work at any time in the first five years of a child's life.

Campaigners for maternity rights have also been in no doubt that he should take a lead and take time off.

Not only does it help a father's bonding with his child, they said, but it would set a good example to the nation's employers that they should take paternity as well as maternity seriously.

Mr Blair appealed for a degree of privacy after the baby's arrival, saying that the media should not treat him, his wife and their children like the royal family.

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23 Mar 00 | UK
Should Tony take a break?
14 Dec 99 | Business
New fathers get unpaid leave
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