Blair says Britain’s U.S. ties are worth woes

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MANCHESTER, England – Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his final address to his governing Labour Party, said Tuesday that being the United States’ strongest ally can be difficult but it is crucial to stay close to Washington in the fight against terrorism. The man who spoke on stage in Manchester looked far different from the fresh-faced 41-year-old who took over the party in 1994. Now his hair is shot with gray, and the lines on his face are more pronounced – reflecting a turbulent 12 years in which British troops have been sent into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there have been suicide terror attacks on British soil. “Yes, it’s hard sometimes to be America’s strongest ally,” he said. “At the moment, I know people only see the price of these alliances. Give them up and the cost in terms of power, weight and influence for Britain would be infinitely greater. Distance this country, and you may find it’s a long way back.” This speech, his last to the Labour Party faithful as leader, was a chance for Blair to secure his legacy, to remind his detractors of his accomplishments and to urge his party to stay on course when he leaves office sometime in the next year. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John PhillipsBlair commented only briefly on an incident surrounding a speech a day earlier by the his possible successor, Gordon Brown, who had declared it a privilege to work with Blair. A journalist quoted Blair’s wife Cherie as responding: “Well, that’s a lie” – a purported remark that gained widespread attention in Tuesday’s papers. Cherie Blair denied making the comment, but the incident was another bit of bad luck for Brown – a man who is much admired for his policy acumen but now seems fated to struggle to replace Blair and may ultimately even watch the post slip through his fingers. As leader, Blair forced the traditionally left-leaning party into the center and reached out to moderate, middle-class voters. His emphasis on such issues as health care, fiscal discipline and crime appealed to millions, and when Britain voted in 1997, Labour swept into government for the first time in 18 years. He was Britain’s youngest prime minister since 1812, and his election dovetailed with the era of “cool Britannia.”last_img

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