Blair admits resignation mistake

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2006-03-27 01:00:00…   Blair admits resignation mistake UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has acknowledged it may have been a “mistake” to announce he would not be serving a fourth term in office. “People kept asking me the question so I decided to answer it. Maybe that was a mistake,” he told Australian radio. He is on a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia and was speaking after attending the Commonwealth Games. Later Downing Street said what he meant was it was a mistake to expect the announcement would end speculation. In an interview with ABC Radio he was asked whether it had been “a strategic mistake” to announce his departure. It was an unusual thing for me to say but people kept asking me the question so I decided to answer it Tony Blair He said: “What happened when you get into your third term and you are coming up to your tenth year is that it really doesn’t matter what you say, you are going to get people saying it should be time for a change. “This speculation, I think, probably would happen whatever decision you take. “Now, it was an unusual thing for me to say but people kept asking me the question so I decided to answer it. Maybe that was a mistake.” ‘Global alliance’ Mr Blair has insisted he will serve a full third term in office before resigning but there has been constant speculation about when he will quit and hand over to Chancellor Gordon Brown. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the BBC he did not think the announcement to be a mistake because it enabled a smooth transfer of power. Asked if the Australian interview would speed up that process he added: “I still think that the timetable in people’s minds is still reasonably the same.” A spokeswoman for Number 10 spokeswoman said the prime minister had been cut off mid-sentence on the radio when the interviewer talked over his comments. If the going is tough, we tough it out Tony Blair What he had intended to say was, she said: “It was a mistake… to believe that the announcement would kill off the speculation as to when I would resign.” The prime minister will turn his attention to global matters in a speech to the Australian Parliament in Canberra on Monday. He is expected to say: “If we want to secure our way of life, there’s no alternative but to fight for it. “That means standing up for our values not just in our own country but the world over.” “We need to construct a global alliance for these global values and act through it.” Struggle On the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is expected to say: “If the going is tough, we tough it out. This is not a time to walk away but to have the courage to see it through.” He will say: “This is the age of the interconnected – we all recognise this when it comes to economics, communication and culture, but the same applies to politics. “The struggle in our world today therefore, is not just about security. It is a struggle about values and about modernity, whether to be at ease with it or enraged.” BBC correspondent Nick Robinson said Mr Blair would also praise Australia for sending troops to Iraq. Story from BBC…: 2006/03/26 22:52:31 GMT© BBC MMVI

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