13 years of British government under Labour

3rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Labour party has been in power for 13 years, first under Tony Blair and then, from 2007, under Gordon Brown. Here are some key dates:

- May 2, 1997: Blair leads Labour to a landslide general election victory over John Major's Conservatives after 18 years in opposition.

- April 10, 1998: Northern Ireland peace deal agreed after Blair plays key role in negotiations.

- September 2000: The government faces its first real domestic crisis as angry lorry drivers stage a series of protests against the level of fuel tax, forcing concessions from the government.

- June 8, 2001: Labour resoundingly wins second term in government at a general election delayed by a serious outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

- September 11, 2001: Al-Qaeda launches a string of attacks on the US killing thousands of people, including when the World Trade Center collapses in New York.

British troops are later sent to Afghanistan as part of a US-led effort against Al-Qaeda.

Blair has said the attacks fundamentally changed Britain and the US's view of the security risk posed by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

- March 20, 2003: British troops join US-led invasion of Iraq.

- July 18, 2003: Ministry of Defence weapons expert David Kelly found dead near his home with slashed wrists.

This came amid claims he was the source of a BBC report that a dossier saying Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be launched in 45 minutes had been "sexed up".

An official inquiry into Kelly's death later finds no-one could have known Kelly would take his own life and says the BBC's claim that the dossier had been "sexed up" was "unfounded".

- May 6, 2005: Blair's Labour wins a third consecutive general election for the first time in its history, but with a sharply reduced majority.

- July 6, 2005: London named host city for 2012 Olympics after lobbying from Blair.

- July 7, 2005: A total of 56 people killed when four British Islamist suicide bombers blow themselves up on London's public transport system.

- November 10, 2005: Blair suffers his first-ever defeat in the House of Commons over pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects, amid growing calls from some backbenchers for him to resign.

- September 7, 2006: Blair says he will leave office within the next 12 months but fails to give a precise date, amid intense pressure from allies of his long-time rival and finance minister Gordon Brown.

In May 2007, he announces he will leave Downing Street on June 27.

- June 27, 2007: After ten years in office, Blair leaves Downing Street to make way for Brown, his authority weakened by the fallout from the 2003 Iraq war.

Brown initially performs well, handling a series of crises including foiled car bombings in London solidly.

- October 6, 2007: Following weeks of speculation, Brown rules out a snap general election amid falling opinion polls.

- May 2008: Labour suffers a string of damaging defeats in local, London and by-elections.

- October 8, 2008: As the global financial crisis hits, government announces package of measures that makes 400 billion pounds of fresh money available for banks.

- October 13, 2008: Amid plunging markets, Brown's government announces plans to part-nationalise Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HBOS by pumping 37 billion pounds into them.

- January 23, 2009: Official figures show Britain has entered recession.

- April 2, 2009: Brown hosts G20 summit in London, where world leaders agree emergency measures to tackle the financial crisis.

- June 4, 2009: After more bad election results, a member of Brown's Cabinet, James Purnell, resigns and calls for him to quit as well.

Although several other ministers resign, Brown survives despite talk of a leadership challenge, the most serious of a string of threats to his premiership.

- January 26, 2010: Official data shows Britain has emerged from recession.

- April 6: Election called for May 6. New parliament to meet May 18, with the Queen's Speech -- when the new government's legislative plans are ceremonially announced -- set for May 25.

© 2010 AFP

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