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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Blair statement: reaction
Tony Blair's announcement that he intends to step down within a year was designed to quell unrest from within the Labour Party. How have Labour MPs and others reacted?

PETER MANDELSON, EU TRADE COMMISSIONER

Peter Mandelson

Mr Mandelson, one of the main architects of New Labour, said he believed Labour had a "moment of madness" over the past week.

"I hope it will now move on and that the plotting and the shenanigans will be put behind them once and for all.

"They've got to concentrate on the needs of the country, not themselves."

He added: "Ten years is a long time to expect anyone to do a job of that kind - he has done a lot and delivered a lot."

HILARY BENN, INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SECRETARY

Mr Benn said Mr Blair had been through a "very difficult few days" but had decided to put the interests of the country above all.

"I think it's important that everybody now accepts what we've heard today and understands that that's all that's required so that we can get back to the job in hand," he said.

"That is dealing with the real problems of the country in partnership with the people.

"Politics isn't just about what politicians do. It's about what we do together."

ALEX SALMOND, SCOTTISH NATIONALIST PARTY LEADER

Mr Salmond said Mr Blair's announcement had failed to resolve the leadership issue.

Alex Salmond

"Brown and Blair stalling doesn't take Labour an inch further forward," he said.

"We still have a lame duck prime minister resolved to clinging onto the remnants of power, and an over-anxious heir apparent determined to pursue the self-destructive policy that is reducing New Labour to rubble.

"It is little wonder that Labour MSPs in Scotland are in a state of near panic as their party obsesses about their own future while the SNP talks about the future of Scotland."

IAN LUCAS MP

Wrexham MP Mr Lucas, one of those to quit as a parliamentary private secretary on Wednesday, welcomed the statement but said he wished Mr Blair had given the assurance last week.

"I welcome also his statement that he will name a date for his departure in due course and think that it is in the interests of the country that this date is not far distant," he added.

"I believe that certainty of leadership is required to take the country forward.

"The uncertainty that has existed throughout this Parliament has been damaging to the country and to the Labour Party."

PATRICIA HEWITT, HEALTH SECRETARY

Ms Hewitt, a close ally of Mr Blair, had earlier criticised those who signed a letter urging him to go.

Patricia Hewitt
She said she "warmly welcomed" Mr Blair's announcement.

She also welcomed Chancellor Gordon Brown's statement saying it was for the PM to make the decision over when to leave the job.

"I hope that we can now put behind us the damaging divisions of the last week and get back to what really matters - improving the lives of the people of our country."

MARK TAMI MP

Mark Tami

Mr Tami, MP for Alyn and Deeside, resigned as a parliamentary private secretary on Wednesday, but he said he welcomed Mr Blair's statement.

He said it was "a significant step toward ending the uncertainty surrounding his leadership".

But Mr Tami also made it clear that he was not entirely satisfied with it, adding: "The improved clarity offered by the prime minister will be enhanced when he sets out further details in the near future.

"We must now wait to see how this is received by the people of Britain and whether attention can focus back on delivering improvements for the nation.

"Clearly, this has been a difficult week for the party and more importantly for the country, but it has been vital to end uncertainty in order to ease the path of further progress."

DOUG HENDERSON MP

Mr Henderson, a former minister who is regarded as a staunch supporter of Mr Brown, believes Mr Blair should leave by next March.

He says this would ensure the new leader has a chance to put a platform in front of the electorate before next May's elections.

"Following the PM's statement this afternoon, it doesn't seem to me that the public knows any more about the PM's retirement plans.

"People keep saying to me that the Labour Party must have a clear direction forward with clear priorities and a new leader before the elections in 2007."

SIR STUART BELL MP

Middlesbrough MP Sir Stuart admitted that Labour had had a "nervous breakdown in public" over the past few days.

But he felt that the prime minister had said enough to defuse tensions.

"It is clear and it has been clear for some time," he said of Mr Blair's intended timetable for stepping down.

"He cannot give an exact date because he is a national leader - there could be national or international crisis."

JOHN BURTON, CONSTITUENCY AGENT

John Burton

One of Mr Blair's oldest friends, Mr Burton said the prime minister had made his intentions clear in a way that he had never done before.

"He said he would not be here for next year's party conference and he has never said before that he was going to stand down in 2007.

"I think it was quite moving in the way he apologised to the country for the behaviour of the Labour Party over the last week.

"Tony was right when he said there were more important things to concentrate on, like running the country than speculating when he would stand down.

"I get the feeling from watching Tony that he was quite sad for the Labour Party."

But Mr Burton - Mr Blair's agent in his Sedgefield constituency in County Durham - said that the party could recover.

STEPHEN POUND MP

Mr Pound, MP for Ealing North in London and Blair loyalist, said the prime minister had made a "strong statement".

"It wasn't the statement for a man who's running out of steam, it was a man who was actually at the top of his power, it was a man who's got a job to do, who actually wants to get on with doing it.

"You could just feel the impatience pulsing through him."

JEREMY CORBYN MP

Speaking before Mr Blair made his statement Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North and veteran left-winger, said he wanted an exact date from the prime minister.

And he was derisory about Mr Brown's insistence that there was no "private arrangements" between chancellor and prime minister.

"Well, it sounds to me like they've made some kind of a private deal last night and we're not going to be told what that deal is," he said.

"And Tony Blair will then make a statement this afternoon saying he's going to go sometime in the future so there's nothing changed there but there's clearly some agreement reached between them. And I think it's really not acceptable.

"What we need is a date from the prime minister."




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