Blair pays tribute to departing British PM Brown

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Former British premier Tony Blair paid tribute Tuesday to his successor Gordon Brown's "dignity, courage and leadership," following his resignation after losing close-run elections.

"I spoke to Gordon Brown tonight in a warm conversation that reflected a friendship of almost 30 years' duration," said Blair, who handed over to his long-term friend-turned rival as Labour leader and premier in 2007.

"I pay tribute to the dignity, courage and leadership he has shown in these last few days and to the quite extraordinary service he has given to our country in 13 years of government," he added.

Brown served as Blair's "Iron Chancellor" for a decade after their Labour Party -- rebranded New Labour -- swept to power in 1997.

But the pair's relationship deteriorated amid a feud over a reported promise by Blair, made before they took power, to stand aside as premier in favour of Brown after a certain number of years.

Brown, who lacked his predecessor's charisma and media skills, became prime minister in June 2007. He resigned Tuesday after losing inconclusive elections last week, succeeded by Conservative leader David Cameron.

© 2010 AFP

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