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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK
In full: Tony Blair statement
This is the full statement given by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair regarding his future:

The first thing I'd like to do is to apologise actually, on behalf of the Labour party for the last week, which, with everything that's been going on back here and in the world, has not been our finest hour, to be frank.

But I think what is important now is that we understand that it's the interests of the country that come first and we move on.

Now, as for my timing and date of departure, I would have preferred to do this in my own way, but it has been pretty obvious from what many of my Cabinet colleagues have said earlier in the week.

The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader.

The next TUC conference next week will be my last TUC, probably to the relief of both of us.

But I am not going to set a precise date now. I don't think that's right.

I will do that at a future date and I'll do it in the interests of the country and, depending on the circumstances, of the time.

Now, that doesn't in any way take away from the fact that it's my last conference, but I think the precise timetable has to be left up to me and has got to be done in a proper way.

Now, I'll also say one other thing after the last week.

I think it's important for the Labour party to understand, and I think the majority of people in the party do understand, that it's the public that comes first and it's the country that matters, and we can't treat the public as irrelevant bystanders in a subject as important as who is their prime minister.

So we should just bear that in mind in the way we conduct ourselves in the time to come.

And in the meantime, I think it's important that we get on with the business.

I mean, I was at a primary school earlier.

Fantastic new buildings. Great new IT suite. School results improving.

I'm here at this school that just in the last few years has come on leaps and bounds, doing fantastically well.

We've got the blockade on the Lebanon lifted, today.

You know, there are important things going on in the world.

And I think I speak for all my Cabinet colleagues when I say that we would prefer to get on with those things because those are the things that really matter and really matter to the country.

So it's, as I say, it's been a somewhat difficult week but I think it's time now to move on and I think we will.

And I know you've got reams of questions but I don't think it's very sensible for me to go into them now.

Tony Blair confirms he will step down within 12 months

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