13 years of British government under Labour
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