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Britain's Next PM Promises Different Kind of Government

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Britons can expect a new style of government when Gordon Brown takes over from Prime Minister Tony Blair next month.  That is the promise Mr. Brown has made to a country eager to see government trust rebuilt.  For VOA, Tom Rivers reports from London.

Having secured the backing of the vast majority of Labour politicians in parliament, Gordon Brown will become the next British prime minister, without a runoff party election.

He will simply succeed Tony Blair on June 27 when, after a decade in office, Mr. Blair will step down.

Speaking in London, Mr. Brown, the country's long-serving finance minister, said he it will be an honor to lead the nation.

"I am truly humbled that so many of my colleagues have nominated me for the leadership of the Labour Party and I formally accept the nomination, the responsibility it brings and the opportunity to serve the people of Britain," he said.

A lot has happened during the last 10 years under Mr. Blair's leadership, and Gordon Brown will inherit a demoralized and unpopular Labour Party lagging far behind the opposition Conservatives in the polls.

But Mr. Brown promises change and a new approach.

"I will lead a new government with new priorities," he said. "I believe government only works when it is dedicated to serving the people.  I will always try to put your concerns and aspirations at the heart of what I do. I will work hard for you. This is who I am."

Brown said he will not announce any shift in London's relationship with Washington, despite widespread public disquiet in Britain over Mr. Blair's unwavering support for the president on Iraq. 

In Washington, Prime Minister Blair met with President Bush at the White House where they later held a joint news conference.

Mr. Blair congratulated Gordon Brown on his landslide victory in Labour Party backing.

"Having signed Gordon's nomination forms and nominated him as leader, of course I wish him well and I believe he will make a great prime minister, and I know he believes in the relationship with America too," he said.

Asked about what kind of relationship he might have with Mr. Brown, President Bush said he expects a smooth transition.

"I hope to help him in office the way Tony Blair helped me," he said.  "Newly-elected president, Tony Blair came over, he reached out, he was gracious and was able to converse in a way where our shared interests were the most important aspect of the relationship.  I would hope I would provide the same opportunities for Gordon Brown.  I met him.  Thought he was a good fellow."

Gordon Brown says he will tour the country during the next six weeks to better understand the challenges that lie ahead.  During much of that time, Mr. Blair will be traveling overseas.

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