LONDON — Tony Blair began the day as prime minister and ended it as Mideast envoy — no longer responsible for the well-being of Britons but for peace in the Middle East.
Mr. Blair left office yesterday after a decade in power, taking with him a legacy that includes peace in Northern Ireland, a historic stretch of economic prosperity — and deep divisions over the war in Iraq.
Before entering the prime minister’s official residence at No. 10 Downing Street, Mr. Brown turned to face the cameras and, quoting his old school motto, pledged “to try my utmost.”
“At all times, I will be strong in purpose, steadfast in will, resolute in action in the service of what matters to the British people, meeting the concerns and aspirations of our whole country,” he said.
Mr. Brown, who first vied with Mr. Blair to lead the Labor Party in 1994, smiled broadly as he left a meeting at Buckingham Palace during which Queen Elizabeth II asked him to form a new government, the ceremonial transfer of power.
“Let the work of change begin,” he told reporters massed outside his new office.
Known for an often-stern demeanor that paled against the bright smile of his personable predecessor, the 56-year-old Mr. Brown has promised to sweep aside the Blair era and restore trust in a government weakened by deep public anger over Iraq.
“I have listened, and I have learned from the British people — and as prime minister I will continue to listen and learn from the British people,” Mr. Brown said in an interview published yesterday in the Daily Mirror.
“This need for change cannot be met by the old politics, so I will reach out,” he added.
Nervous and smiling awkwardly, Mr. Brown tightly grasped his wife’s hand to guide her through the black front door of the prime minister’s residence, where he will begin working on drawing up his legislative agenda and preparing for a parliamentary election that must be held by 2010.
Mr. Brown also held brief telephone conversations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. And he spoke with David Cameron, leader of the resurgent opposition Conservative Party, Mr. Ellam said.View Entire Story
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