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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

Blair bows out, Brown steps in with all smiles as new British Prime Minister

By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune

New Delhi, 27 June ( A new resident entered the most famous landmark in London, 10 Downing Street in what marks the end of '10- year -long' New Labour' dream and the beginning of 'a new era of change'. “Bye”   - Blair ......“Hello”  - Brown“Bye” - Blair ......“Hello” - Brown

It was a smooth transfer of power from Tony Blair (54), who was forced to bow out of office with the follies of Iraq war over shadowing his legacy of economic prosperity, to Gordon Brown, who, as the Daily Mirror said, has been waiting for the past 13 years to move into the hot seat of British politics. Opposition parties want him to call a general election immediately but he is unlikely to oblige them. He has until May 2010 at the latest to call a general election.

US President George W Bush has lined up plans for the rehabilitation of his most steadfast ally. The speculation is that Blair will take over as Special Envoy for the Quartet, the group of four entities -- the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, to strife torn Middle East. That would see an end to Blair's domestic innings, to the relief of Brown (56).

It is possible that the outgoing prime minister will announce this week an end to his role as a law maker after 24 years. He has left for his Sedgefield constituency from London and he may outline his plans during the interaction with his constituency colleagues.

Brown has promised 'a new government with new priorities'. He also vowed to lead Britain as the 52nd Prime Minister into 'a new era of change'. Flanked by his wife Sarah outside his new official residence, Brown pledged to "listen and learn" to implement changes in areas like health and education and build trust in government. And for added emphasis, he said, "I will try my utmost". Enter  Brown and Sarah Enter Brown and Sarah

The new Prime Minister is expected to finalize his ministerial team latest by Thursday.

Even on his last day in Tony Blair justified his policies on Iraq and Afghanistan in what is seen as a streak of defiance.

Refusing the criticism that dogged him in the past few months that the British troops were fighting in alien lands in vain, he said, "I believe they're fighting for the security of this country and wider world against people who would destroy our way of life".

On the last day in Parliament, Blair was praised from across the political divide. Northern Ireland's First Minister Ian Paisley, whose recent election climaxed one of Blair's biggest achievements, wished him well in any Middle East role, although he called it a "collosal task". He drew a parallel with the reconciliation between Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland, adding: "I hope that what happened in Northern Ireland will be repeated."

Blair received a standing ovation after his final appearance at the Prime Minister's Question Hour in the House of Commons. With wife Cherie and U.S. Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle in the visitors' gallery, Blair told the lawmakers, "I wish everyone, friend or foe, well, and that is that, the end."

From Parliament House he drove to the Buckingham Palace and tendered his resignation in a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II. Exit BlairExit Blair

Blair became premier in 1997 after a landslide Labour victory. Eloquent and easy, media and people friendly persona is his forte. It is in contrast to the image his successor has earned. Brown was mostly the finance minister under Blair and the Scotsman earned the nick name "Iron Chancellor".

The son of a Church of Scotland minister, he is a bookish intellectual, according to his friends. He began studying at the University of Edinburgh at the age of 16. He is blind in his left eye, the result of suffering a detached retina from being kicked in the head during a rugby match.

Unlike Blair, Brown is sceptical of integration with the European Union and is also cautious on relations with Washington. Observers don't expect the new Prime Minister to make any significant policy changes though. His first priority is to save the Labour from the stigmas of unpopular Iraq war.

Blair and Brown were good friends at the outset but the Iraq war and downslide in the popularity of Blair, created a rift which widened over the past several months.

-Asian Tribune-

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