Accessibility links

Gordon Brown - Britain's New Prime Minister After Blair Decade

Gordon Brown is taking over as Britain's new prime minister, after his long-time political friend and rival Tony Blair stepped down, ending 10 years in office. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London on the transfer of power.

It was a day of political tradition, ceremony and drama - the official transfer of power from one prime minister to another.

Returning from his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, Gordon Brown arrived at his new official residence, 10 Downing Street.

"I have just accepted the invitation of her Majesty the Queen to form a new government," said Gordon Brown. "This will be a new government with new priorities."

Mr. Brown vowed to reach out beyond, what he called, narrow party interests.

Just hours earlier, his predecessor, Tony Blair made his last appearance in the House of Commons.

Blair opened the session on a sober note, expressing condolences to the families of three British servicemen killed in action.

"I am truly sorry about the dangers they face today in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Tony Blair. "I know some people think they face these dangers in vain. I do not and I never will."

Mr. Blair has remained steadfast in his support for intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq, even amid increasing public opposition.

During his term, Mr. Blair faced many tough questions in this chamber, especially from the opposition Conservative Party.

Yet on this day, there were also tributes - including from Conservative Party leader, David Cameron.

"For 13 years he has led his party, for 10 years he has led our country, and no one can be in any doubt in terms of the huge efforts he has made in terms of public service," said David Cameron. "He has considerable achievements to his credit, whether it is peace in Northern Ireland, whether it is his work in the developing world, which I know will endure."

Mr. Blair also paid tribute to his colleagues in the House of Commons.

"I can pay the House the greatest compliment I can by saying that from the first to last I never stopped fearing it," he said. "That tingling apprehension that I felt at three minutes to 12 today, I felt as much 10 years ago and every bit as acute. And it is in that fear, the respect is contained."

Amid a standing ovation in the House of Commons, Tony Blair left the chamber. He returned to 10 Downing Street for final farewells to staff members before heading to Buckingham Palace to formally hand in his resignation to the queen.

Shortly thereafter, Gordon Brown was summoned for a private audience with the queen to be confirmed as Britain's new prime minister.

Tony Blair was later seen carrying his own bag as he and wife Cherie took the train north to Mr. Blair's constituency.