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The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"A glimpse of the first baby to reside in Downing Street in over 150 years"
 real 28k

Monday, 22 May, 2000, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Baby Blair makes his debut
Tony, Cherie and Leo Blair
First one for the photo album: The happy family
Downing Street has ended the clamour for the first sighting of Tony and Cherie Blair's new baby by releasing a picture of him on the internet.

Sir Paul McCartney's daughter, Mary, took the first pictures of baby Leo Blair, which were released to the media via the Downing Street website.

Ms McCartney was Cherie Blair's personal choice to take an "intimate portrait", said a Downing Street spokesman.

Mr Blair has cancelled his appearance at Prime Minister's Question Time on Wednesday to spend more time with his wife and Leo. He will also be missing Thursday's cabinet meeting.

Tony Blair
The proud father

The prime minister had promised to scale down work commitments to enable him to spend as much time as possible with Cherie and Leo, but he has ruled out taking formal paternity leave.

The photograph of Leo was taken on Sunday inside Downing Street by Ms McCartney, whose mother, Linda, was a photographer.

Members of the public attempting to see the photograph on the Downing Street website found that they were unable to view the page.

Barrister Mrs Blair, 45, gave birth to her fourth child in the early hours of Saturday after a 12-hour natural labour.

The 6lb-12oz boy, the first child born to a serving prime minister for 150 years, was named after Tony Blair's father.

Mother's joy

Mrs Blair said she was "tired but full of joy" after the birth.

In her first public statement since the birth, she admitted: "It is so long since we had our other three children that I had forgotten quite what an ordeal those last few hours of labour can be."

Mrs Blair paid tribute to staff at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital, where her son was born.

She said: "The midwives were fantastic at helping us through.

He's absolutely fine - I'm feeling a little tired

Tony Blair

"Now that Leo is here, I am very tired but full of joy.

"Tony and the children are a real help and all of us are really touched by the flowers, messages and presents, not just from friends and colleagues but, perhaps above all, from people we have never met."

Mary McCartney's photograph is being released to the world's media for free and another 14 picutres are being made available for a fee paid to charity, said Number 10.

Teddy Blair? Flowers and presents pour in
Mr Blair's spokesman said of Ms McCartney: "She was Cherie's personal choice. She got to know her through her work for Breast Cancer Care."

The spokesman added Mrs Blair "hopes these pictures will benefit both charities who will share the proceeds".

The family plan to leave Downing Street for the Prime Minister's official country residence, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, later this week.

The Number 10 spokesman said boxes of government papers were still being sent to the prime minister but he was cutting right back on meetings and public engagements.

The spokesman added: "He finally decided today after having spoken to deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and he wanted to be happy that Commons speaker Betty Boothroyd was happy."

The speaker has given her consent to the arrangements, and the Tory opposition had also been consulted, he said.


The prime minister has already given a brief insight into how life at No 10 was changing, saying: "The thing is, you forget how tiny they are, and also changing nappies in the middle of the night."

Flowers, gifts, cards and messages have poured into Downing Street from all over the world.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh sent congratulations and flowers, as did Tory leader William Hague and his wife, Ffion.

US president Bill Clinton's wife Hillary telephoned Mrs Blair while Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila sent a telegram.

Ex-Tory prime minister John Major was the first public figure to telephone his best wishes to Mr Blair.

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See also:

23 May 00 | UK Politics
The Blairs' new baby: In pictures
21 May 00 | UK
Cherie's joy at baby Leo
22 May 00 | UK Politics
All hail the lovely Leo
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