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Monday, September 13, 1999 Published at 20:04 GMT 21:04 UK

UK Politics

Blair slow on super-highway

The prime minister is to lean how to use the Internet

Tony Blair has admitted he does not know how to use the Internet, despite warning British industry that it needs to take online business more seriously.

The prime minister's admission came as he promised his government would take the lead in promoting IT skills and e-commerce - business conducted via the Internet.

Mr Blair said he planned to take a half-day computer course to learn how to use the Internet.

[ image: Mr Blair typed with one finger]
Mr Blair typed with one finger
"Like many people of my generation in positions of leadership, I rarely use a computer and when I do I usually need help.

"But I know it's not good enough and if I recommend life-long learning to others, then I know I should go back to school myself," he said.

However, the prime minister did manage to use the Internet to send flowers to his wife Cherie.

She later received the begonias at Downing Street.

The prime minister told workers at the software company Zeus: "You do realise if I am going to send my wife flowers she is going to think I have done something really bad."

'Enthusiastic' surfer

Mr Blair operated the keyboard with his right index finger as he was guided through his Internet transaction by software expert Owen Garrett.

Mr Garrett said: "In terms of his computer skills, I don't think you could expect any more from someone in his position in upper management.

"He very quickly got the idea of what to do and was very enthusiastic. I am sure if he went back now he could do it all by himself without any problem at all.

"I had the Web page already called up but he did everything else."

Zeus, which is already a leader in its field, was set up by Adam Twiss, 23, and Damian Reeves, 25, in the final year of their computer studies degree at Cambridge.

The company employs 14 people, with an average age of under 25, and is expected to double in size by Christmas.

It is already worth several million pounds and is expected to make the co-founders millionaires.

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