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Prime Minister Tony Blair
"Our mandate is to carry on the work that we started"
 real 56k

Conservative leader William Hague
"The results tonight... are deeply disappointing for my party"
 real 56k

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
"We are very much a party of the future for British politics"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jon Sopel
analyses the morning's events
 real 56k

The BBC's Peter Snow
assesses the night's results
 real 56k

Friday, 8 June, 2001, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Blair sets out goals for UK
Tony Blair with wife Cherie and son Leo outside 10 Downing St
Victory means a rare Downing St appearance for Leo Blair
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has set out his vision for the next five years of government after his second landslide election victory and is preparing to announce his new cabinet.

Speaking on the steps of Downing Street, after seeing the Queen at Buckingham Palace, he said the Labour majority of 167 was "a mandate for reform and for investment".

MPs returned
Labour: 413
Cons: 166
Lib Dems: 52
Others: 12
Within hours of acknowledging his crushing defeat, William Hague said he would be stepping down as leader of the Conservative party.

The Liberal Democrats gained more MPs and increased their share of the national vote, a success which leader Charles Kennedy said would help them take a share of government by the end of the decade.

Labour's landslide comes, however, against the backdrop of the lowest voter turnout since 1918. The figure is being put at under 60%, down from 71% in 1997.

John Prescott
Mr Prescott arriving at Number 10
Speculation about Mr Blair's new team has been fuelled by visits to Downing Street by several senior Labour figures, including John Prescott, Gordon Brown, David Blunkett and Lord Irvine.

As he left, Mr Blunkett told reporters he had been given a "difficult job", and was then driven off to the Home Office, where he seems certain to replace Jack Straw as home secretary.

Earlier, Mr Blair cradled his one-year-old son Leo in his arms for photographers outside Number 10, after pledging to deliver the promised improvements to public services.

The prime minister warned there would be hard choices ahead if reforms to the NHS, education, transport, welfare and the criminal justice system were to go ahead.

He also hinted strongly that a referendum on the UK's entry to the euro was high on his agenda.

William and Ffion Hague
William Hague tenders his resignation on Friday
"We need to make changes so that we are engaged, exerting influence, having the self belief not to turn our back on the world or retreat into isolationism," he told journalists.

Mixed fortunes

With all results in from England, Wales and Scotland the next parliament will see Labour return 413 MPs, the Conservatives 166, Lib Dems 52 and other parties 10.

The final overall majority for Labour will be 167.

That has left Labour with a net loss of just six seats, with one gain for the Tories, and a net Liberal Democrat gain of six seats.

In Northern Ireland all 18 seats are being declared. The Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has held his seat in West Belfast.

The far-right British National Party stunned political observers when it took more than 11,000 votes across the two Oldham constituencies, the scene of recent race riots.

Not indispensible

In a dramatic statement outside Conservative Central Office in London, Mr Hague said he would stand down as soon as a successor had been chosen.

"No man is indispensible. No man is more important than the party," he said.

Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy greets party workers on Friday
"It is vital for leaders to listen and parties to change. I believe it is vital the party be given the chance to choose a leader who can build on my work, but also take new initiatives and hopefully command a larger personal following in the country.

"I've therefore decided to step down as leader of the Conservative party when a successor can be elected in the coming months.

"I will continue until that time to carry out the parliamentary and other duties of the leader of the opposition."

The battle to succeed him began immediately with former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine claiming Kenneth Clarke was the only man who could unite the party - provided Tory MPs could campaign either way on any euro referendum.

But Mr Clarke refused to endorse the call and shadow chancellor Michael Portillo, who called for a period of reflection, remains the front runner to take over the leadership.

Meanwhile Lady Thatcher refused to endorse any candidate but insisted: "Make no mistake the Conservative Party will be back and effective."

Lib Dem success

Charles Kennedy returned to his party's London HQ and told party workers they must seize the mantle of opposition from the Tories and campaign in the next parliament for better public services.

He said the party would now have to work harder as its increased electoral strength would mean it would be under more scrutiny than ever before.

Elsewhere, the Scottish National Party lost one seat, giving them a total of five, and Plaid Cymru lost one and gained another, giving them four.


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