British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will not seek a third term at 10 Downing Street if his Conservative Party wins the upcoming parliamentary elections.
In an interview with BBC television that aired Monday, Cameron pledged to serve a full five-year term if his party remains in government after the May 10 vote, saying he wanted to finish working on such issues as education and welfare reform.
But the prime minister told interviewer James Landale that "terms are like shredded wheat -- two are wonderful, but three might just be too many."
"There definitely comes a time when a fresh pair of eyes and fresh leadership would be good, and the Conservative Party has some great people coming up," Cameron added, naming Home Secretary Theresa May, Chancellor George Osborne and London Mayor Boris Johnson as potential successors.
The prime minister's statements set off a firestorm in the British political world. David Alexander, who heads the election strategy for the opposition Labour Party, said the Conservatives "are taking the British public for granted."
"It is typically arrogant of David Cameron to presume a third Tory term in 2020 before the British public have been given the chance to have their say in this election," Alexander said.
But Michael Gove, the Conservative Party's chief whip, or vote counter, defended Cameron during a BBC television interview Monday, saying the prime minister's remarks were simply "a statement of the bleeding obvious."