Blair plans to quit to bring in new blood, ideas: spokesman

ABU DHABI — British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to step down next year was aimed at bringing new blood and new ideas to the premier office, a foreign ministry spokesman told Khaleej Times.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Thu 21 Sep 2006, 9:54 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:26 PM

“Obviously, Tony Blair has taken this personal decision and I think he feels within these 12 months, he could play a major role in office before he quits.”

“Ten years is quite a long time and it’s time now for new blood... and new ideas,” said Barry Marston, Official Arabic Spokesman, Head of Press Office Team at the Foreign Commonwealth Office.

It has been reported that Blair’s decision came amid mounting pressure and calls to leave office soon, following widespread anger at his handling of the recent fighting in the Middle East and anxiety over Labour’s slide in the polls.

However, many feel sorry to see him go, as he was seen as someone willing to risk his own political neck in order to perform his duty.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is most likely to be chosen as his successor. On the opposition to his recent visit to Lebanon, Marston — who was on a short visit to the UAE — said the British government understands the sentiments against Britain’s policy in the region.

“We are ready to talk, but we don’t want such arguments to undermine our role in issues concerning the region.”

“Blair was invited to Lebanon and that was in view of the role played by Britain during the crisis to bring people together,” he said.

Rejecting allegations that Britain plays a subordinate role to the US, the foreign ministry’s spokesman said: “This is not the case. Britain does not follow America blindly.”

“But when our interests meet, then there is no harm that we work side by side with the US.”

“However, when we disagree we say it bluntly that we disagree,” he noted.

He said one good example of this is the differences over Guantanamo Bay prison.

“Tony Blair said this prison is illegal and should be closed down immediately.”

On the situation in Darfur and the Sudan government’s threats to fight international troops, Marston said Khartoum was likely to accept UN peacekeeping forces.

“Regarding (Sudan President Ahmad Al) Beshir’s statements, we are still optimistic that his government will take the right decision and accept the deployment of UN forces.”

To a question on the recent introduction of anti-terror laws in the UK, Marston said they were not targeting Muslims but those who intend to harm civilians.

“We do not target Muslims or Islam. It’s known that Islam calls for peace and co-existence.”

“We welcome Muslims and we are proud of having many religions and cultures in our society,” he noted.

On his visit to the UAE, Marston said he was on a mission to appoint an official spokesman for the British government who will be based in the Dubai Media City.

More news from