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Last Updated: Monday, 8 May 2006, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Point-by-point: Blair questioned
Tony Blair is giving his latest monthly news conference. Here are the key points so far.

Stepping down

  • Despite recent headlines, Mr Blair said his government faced a busy agenda on issues such as pensions, energy supply, improving the NHS and schools, the environment, and modernising "crime fighting" policies

  • Mr Blair said he had no intention of "going on and on" and wanted a "stable and orderly" transition

  • Setting a timetable would "simply paralyse the proper working of government, put at risk the necessary changes we are making for Britain and therefore damage the country", he argued

  • "It would not end this distraction but take it to a new level," he warned and pointed out it was barely a year since he won the general election as prime minister

  • Mr Blair has previously promised to serve a full third term in office but said he would go "in time for someone to settle down, and it is as simple as that," he said.

  • Mr Blair promised to "fight all the way" those who wanted to reverse New Labour, saying they would consign the party to opposition

  • Asked if there was a plot against him, Mr Blair said people were divided into two camps: those who wanted his promises honoured and those who wanted Labour to change direction

    Gordon Brown

  • Asked if Gordon Brown was the successor he would choose as prime minister, Mr Blair replied: "Of course he is. When have I ever said anything different? That is why I suggest everyone calms down and lets us get on with the business of governing."

  • But he refused to say whether he had told the chancellor when he planned to stand down

  • People were completely mistaken if they thought Mr Brown would take Labour in a different direction, said Mr Blair, arguing: "I have no doubt at all he will New Labour to his fingertips and incidentally a very strong supporter of the trans-Atlantic relationship."

John Prescott

  • Mr Blair defended the new role of his deputy prime minister, who keeps his Cabinet post but has been stripped of his department

  • He praised Mr Prescott's ability to "cut deals across government" as chairman of Cabinet committees

  • Previous deputy prime ministers, such as Willie Whitelaw and Michael Heseltine, had performed a similar role, he said

Jack Straw

  • Mr Blair said it had been agreed after the last election that Mr Straw would step down as foreign secretary and become leader of the House of Commons

  • Suggestions that Mr Straw had been demoted because he opposed invading Iran or because the Americans objected to him were "rubbish", he said

  • The prime minister said Mr Straw had been a "superb foreign secretary" who would now take charge of getting a "difficult" programme through Parliament

  • He had chosen Margaret Beckett as the new foreign secretary as she was an outstanding politician who was a "safe pair of hands" who had wide experience of international affairs

Foreign prisoners debacle

  • Mr Blair said the controversy over the release of foreign prisoners who were not deported had caused the government "significant damage" ahead of the local elections

  • It had been "tough" for Charles Clarke to lose his job as home secretary over the furore but moving him had been the only way to stop "unhelpful" debate on the issue

  • The prime minister said he wanted to answer public concerns that about half of foreign prisoners convicted of serious offences were deported

  • He would not comment on new Home Office figures showing that 150 of the foreign prisoners never considered for deportation were the most serious offenders' category

Terrorism

  • With two reports about the 7 July bombings due later this week, Mr Blair said the security services had done a "magnificent job"

  • He said he knew of "nothing that would indicate they should have known or been able to prevent the attacks"




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