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The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"The prime minister said this birth had been a new experience for him"
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Tony Bair
"He's a gorgeous little boy"
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The BBC's Timy Maby on predictions for the baby
"Expectations of an exceptional future"
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Saturday, 20 May, 2000, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Blairs' pride at 'gorgeous' Leo

It's a boy: The proud father outside Number 10
Prime Minister Tony Blair says he and his wife Cherie are "thrilled" at the birth of their new baby son Leo.

An emotional Mr Blair appeared before the hordes of waiting media at 10 Downing Street shortly before 1230 BST, just 12 hours after the birth.

Mr Blair said he was delighted at becoming a father again and thanked wellwishers for their flowers and cards.

The Blairs
The whole family are delighted
He said his wife and son were resting at home: "Our baby is fine. He's a gorgeous boy."

Leo is the first child to be born to a serving British Prime Minister for more than 150 years and was named after Mr Blair's father.

The prime minister said medical staff at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital had done a fantastic job in helping his 45-year-old wife have a natural birth.

I feel like any father who sees their baby being born - it's very moving

Tony Blair
"It was an ordinary, natural birth, though it was quite a long labour so Cherie is quite tired now."

Despite Leo being his fourth child, Mr Blair said this was the first time he had been present through the entire birth.

"I missed my middle one because he came very early. My eldest there were problems with and my daughter was a Caesarean."

Mr Blair, dressed casually in jeans and a shirt and clutching a coffee mug, told the media that he found the birth a deeply moving experience.

"I feel like any father who sees their baby being born. It's very moving really and if any of you have been through it you'll know it.

"It was quite a long labour, it went on for quite a few hours but it was quite a struggle in the end for Cherie and I think she is very relieved it's all over."

Royal congratulations

Throughout the day, streams of floral bouquets and messages were delivered to No 10.

Former Tory Prime Minister John Major was one of the first to telephone to congratulate the family, while Hillary Clinton called Mrs Blair from the US.

Leo's proud grandfathers were among the first to hear the news.

Leo Blair senior said "It's great, it's really great. It's very exciting."

Teddy Blair? Flowers and presents pour in

Mrs Blair's father, the actor Tony Booth, said he was "absolutely thrilled and delighted" with his new grandson.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also sent Mr and Mrs Blair flowers and best wishes, as did Tory leader William Hague and his wife Ffion.

Mr Hague said: "We send our congratulations to them and their children. We know this is a wonderful day for them, and a happy day for the country as a whole."

The Blair's new son arrived at 0025 BST on Saturday and weighed in at 6lbs 12oz.

Mr Blair said he had forgotten "just how tiny they can be".

Short hospital stay

Cherie Blair had been admitted to hospital at lunchtime on Friday, five days before her official due date of 24 May.

The prime minister joined his wife at the hospital at 2050 BST and stayed with her for six hours before they returned to Downing Street with their new son.

The couple already have two sons, Euan, 16, and Nicky, 14, and a daughter, Kathryn, 12.

Mr Blair said the whole family was delighted at the birth.

Leo Blair senior celebrates the birth
"The other kids are thrilled. They've all been holding him and taking pictures with him and everything. It's just very nice," he said.

The prime minister has already said he will not be taking parental leave but intends to scale back his official workload.

Members of the public were also keen to catch a glimpse of Downing Street's new arrival.

Twenty Brownies visiting Downing Street from Ash Vale, near Guildford, Surrey, delivered a teddy bear and card reading: "Congratulations on your baby boy."

Mother-of-two Tricia Mugridge, 39, of Frome, Somerset, said: "I've been waiting for days. I'm really excited about it."

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