Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview published Friday that he will not step down until he completes his reform plans, but that when he does he would like to see his finance minister, Gordon Brown, replace him. Blair, who already had said he would not seek a fourth term in office, appeared to be giving Brown his strongest and most public backing yet in The Sun newspaper interview.
In May, Blair and his Labour Party had their third straight election win, but the prime minister and Brown are now coping with a new opposition Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, who has been attracting growing attention and support.
In the front-page interview, Blair said he would not "just walk away" from the prime minister's office only six months after his last election victory. But he said he would endorse Brown as his successor when he eventually does retire. "I am absolutely happy that Gordon will be my successor. He needs the confidence of knowing that he will succeed me and that's perfectly fair enough," Blair said.
But the prime minister also said that will not happen soon. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm here and I'm going to see the whole program through," Blair said. "I feel good about our agenda. If you've won three elections, then you're obviously what the people want.
"Why say you're only going to do it for another few years? ... I want to see through the changes I've made and the changes I'm making,” reports the AP. I.L.
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