Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blair To Resign Tomorrow

By Cernig

News is just breaking in the UK that Tony Blair is expected to announce his resignation tomorrow, setting a date in July to hand over over power to his successor - most likely the slightly more lefty Gordon Brown.

AP reports, via The Guardian, that he will make the announcement to his cabinet first before travelling to his own Sedgefield constituency to make a public announcement.
Blair's official spokesman said the prime minister would set out his intentions to Cabinet colleagues on Thursday morning. He is then expected to travel to his Sedgefield constituency in northern England to make a public announcement.

Speculation about Blair's resignation date intensified after he celebrated a decade in power on May 1.

In British parliamentary tradition, the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons serves as prime minister. Blair's announcement that he is stepping down as Labour leader will trigger a leadership contest that would see him replaced as party leader, and prime minister, within about seven weeks.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown, Blair's longtime friend and rival, is the favorite to succeed him, although two backbench Labour lawmakers also have announced their intention to run.

Blair's announcement has been awaited since Sept. 30, 2004, when he said in a television interview that he would serve only one more term - his third - as prime minister.

The announcement, made when he was facing a surgical procedure to correct a heart problem, was one he came to regret, as opponents, party rivals and the media pressed him to set a date for his departure.
The Daily Mail has more details about the specifics of the handover:
Mr Blair's expected announcement tomorrow will not trigger his immediate departure as Prime Minister, but will kick off a process expected to result in the handover of the reins of power to Mr Brown around the start of July.

...Labour's ruling National Executive Committee has laid down a seven-week process to elect successors to Mr Blair and his deputy John Prescott, who has said he will step down at the same time.

This will culminate in a special party conference, probably on the weekend of June 30, at which a new leader and deputy leader will be named.

Mr Blair will then be driven to the Palace, probably on Monday July 2, to resign as Prime Minister and hand over the Seals of Office to the Queen. He will be followed by the new leader - almost certainly Mr Brown - who will be invited by Her Majesty to form a new Government.
The majority guess is that Blairwill continue to serve the rest of his elected term as an MP.

His legacy, now, will be of a leader who came in like a lion and went out like a rather sleazy lamb - tainted by the "cash for peerages" scandal among others and with his party battered in the polls by his support for the Iraq war which most of the rank-and-file opposed.

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