A CONVERSATION WITH GORDON BROWN interview by lally weymouth

Labor's Pains

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

With Britain's Labor Party in crisis after a poor showing in local elections, Prime Minister Tony Blair faced mounting calls to set a date for leaving office and handing over power to his likely successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. During the crisis, Brown sat down with Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth.

Many in the Labor Party say Blair should announce a date to leave office. Your response?

We have just had very difficult elections. People want to look at how the Labor Party can best prepare for the future. Tony Blair has said he does not wish to stand at the next election and that he wants to organize a stable and orderly transition. Tony and I, despite what people say, get on extremely well. We talk almost every day -- sometimes a few times a day.

Are you satisfied with the way Blair is handling the transition?

You've got term limits in the U.S. We have no term limits. It's a matter for him and the Labor Party. It's not really a matter for me at all.

It's reported that when you talked about "renewal" of the Labor Party, you meant "renewal" without Blair.

No, I didn't. The next stage of the Labor Party's development will be Tony Blair, myself and other people working together. We've been working with each other for more than 20 years. We came into parliament together, worked on the creation of "New Labor" together and formulated many government policies together. I've been chancellor while he's been prime minister for nine years -- and we continue to work together. Any party that has been in power for a long time has got to prove by its actions that it can renew itself while still in power. We've done very well to win three elections. But to win another, we've got to prove that we can face the challenges of the next 10 years.

How would you do that?

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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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