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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Key quotes from the Blair speech
Tony Blair after his speech

Tony Blair has announced his plans to resign as Labour leader next month, when he will step down as prime minister of the UK.

His words were delivered at Trimdon Labour Club in his Sedgefield constituency, after he had previously spoken to his Cabinet members at a meeting in Westminster.

Here are some of the main points from his statement.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

"Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of the Labour Party. The party will now select a new leader. On 27 June I will tender my resignation from the office of prime minister to the Queen."

"I have been prime minister of this country for just over 10 years. In this job, in the world today, that is long enough for me - but more especially for the country."

ARRIVING IN DOWNING STREET

"Nineteen ninety-seven was a moment for a new beginning, for sweeping away all the detritus of the past. Expectations were so high, too high, too high in a way for either of us."

RUNNING THE COUNTRY

"Decision-making is hard. Everyone always says: 'Listen to the people.' The trouble is they don't always agree... In time, you realise putting the country first doesn't mean doing the right thing according to conventional wisdom or the prevailing consensus or the latest snapshot of opinion - it means doing what you genuinely believe to be right. Your duty is to act according to your conviction."

"Some [things] never occurred to me on that morning of 2 May 1997, when I came into Downing Street for the first time. Great expectations not fulfilled in every part, for sure. Occasionally people say, 'They were too high, you should have lowered them.' But, to be frank, I would not have wanted it any other way. I was, and remain, as a person and as a Prime Minister, an optimist. Politics may be the art of the possible, but at least in life, give the impossible a go."

CHANGING BRITAIN

"Think about your own living standards then in May 1997 and now. Visit your local school, any of them round here, or anywhere in modern Britain. Ask when you last had to wait a year or more on a hospital waiting list, or heard of pensioners freezing to death in the winter, unable to heat their homes."

"There is only one government since 1945 that can say all of the following: more jobs, fewer unemployed, better health and education results, lower crime, and economic growth in every quarter. This one."

"Look at our economy - at ease with globalisation, London the world's financial centre. Visit our great cities and compare them with 10 years ago. No country attracts overseas investment like we do."

"People are today open-minded about race and sexuality, averse to prejudice and yet deeply and rightly conservative with a small 'c' when it comes to good manners, respect for others, treating people courteously. They acknowledge the need for the State and the responsibility of the individual. They know spending money on our public services matters and that it is not enough. How they are run and organised matters too."

AFTER THE 9/11 ATTACKS

"I decided we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our oldest ally. I did so out of belief. So Afghanistan and then Iraq, the latter, bitterly controversial. Removing Saddam and his sons from power, as with removing the Taleban, was over with relative ease. But the blowback since, from global terrorism and those elements that support it, has been fierce and unrelenting and costly. For many, it simply isn't and can't be worth it.

"For me, I think we must see it through. They, the terrorists, who threaten us here and round the world, will never give up if we give up. It is a test of will and of belief, and we can't fail it."

LEGACY

"Britain is not a follower, it is a leader. It gets the essential characteristic of today's world: its interdependence. This is a country today that, for all its faults, for all the myriad of unresolved problems and fresh challenges, is comfortable in the 21st Century, at home in its own skin, able not just to be proud of its past but confident of its future."

"I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong. That's your call. But believe one thing if nothing else - I did what I thought was right for our country. I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future. I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future."

THE FAREWELL

"I have been very lucky and very blessed. This country is a blessed nation. The British are special, the world knows it, in our innermost thoughts, we know it. This is the greatest nation on Earth. It has been an honour to serve it."

"I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short. Good luck."




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