Last Press Briefing for Tony Blair from PM’s Official Spokesman, 27th June 2007

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3rd February, 2009

I’ve been using Twitter today to follow Tony Blair at his visit to Tuft’s University, Massachusetts.  His plane was late due to our snow at Heathrow.

But I found he had a Twitter page here –  which he signed off with this message:

Well kids, that’s all from me. I advise you to follow my successor, @gordon_brown – I wish him well. (http://tinyurl.com/2d3juh)

Mr Blair’s Twitter page linked back to the last press briefing by his PMS on the morning he left Number 10.

I thought I’d add it here:

Morning press briefing from 27 June 2007

Briefing from the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman on: Prime Minister, Quartet Envoy, Quentin Davies and Farewell

Prime Minister

Asked for a detailed picture about today’s plans and how did things look in Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman asked, amid cheers from the lobby, had he missed something in the news today…?! With regards to today, the PMOS said that we would not be briefing what the Prime Minister would say to staff in No10, as that should be kept private. The PMOS also said tat he was not going to break the habit of a lifetime and give too much of a running commentary, but the Prime Minister had said that he would be Prime Minister right to the end. As the PMOS had said yesterday, if people looked at what we had done in the last six months, it was difficult to disagree that he had fulfilled that promise. Last night, he said that his night was like virtually any Tuesday night when he had been Prime Minister, because he was preparing for PMQs today. Of course today was not normal, but in another way, it was normal, because he still had PMQs to prepare for; just because it was his last PMQs did not mean he was going to go in any less prepared than he would normally. The PMOS said that he was not pretending that it was just like any other PMQs, as there was a tinge around it, but against that, on a morning like today, the refuge is work.

Asked if there would be a family photo, the PMOS said that there would be.

Asked if Mrs. Blair would be going to the Palace, the PMOS said that she was.

Asked if the Prime Minister had received any calls from international leaders today, the PMOS said that he had been focused on PMQs today.

Asked if the Prime Minister would go to Sedgefield, regardless of the Russians, the PMOS replied that although it was not in the period that he would be Spokesman, that he was heading north this afternoon.

Asked if the Prime Minister would travel to Sedgefield on The Queen’s flight, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister would be a private citizen by then.

Asked if the Prime Minister’s thanks to staff would take place as it had historically in the past, the PMOS replied that there would be a speech to staff and then the traditional exit. The content would not be made public, because the Prime Minister had an enormous affection and respect for the No10 staff and that that was reciprocated by all those who worked in Downing Street. This was a moment for them and for the Prime Minister, and therefore, it was better that we kept it that way. It would be a very special occasion.

Asked to confirm that everyone would be there, including Switch, the PMOS confirmed that as many as possible, and asked journalists not to call No10!

Asked if the Prime Minister had had any final words with Gordon Brown today, the PMOS replied that they had spoken today.

Put by Channel Four that sometimes, some people left something in their desk for their successor, the PMOS replied that it wouldn’t be his final lobby if there hadn’t been a “Gibbon-esque” question, and it very good that it had come from the master. These matters were private!

Asked what the PMOS’ plans were afterwards, he replied that he was thinking of suing the Press Association, as they had described him yesterday as “affable”! He did have a reputation to maintain; the Daily Mail had established him as a ” dour Ulsterman”, so for God’s sake, he didn’t want that ruined on his last day!!!

Quartet Envoy

Asked if the Prime Minister had had any contact with President Putin, the PMOS replied that he did yesterday, and they had a very positive discussion.

Asked if it was better than their last discussion, the PMOS said that this re recent conversation was on a more limited subject, i.e. the meeting of the Quartet.

Asked who initiated the contact, the PMOS said that he was not going to get into the details.

Asked if the conversation ended with the Russians agreeing to back the decision, the PMOS replied that we had not given any commentary on the Quartet meeting, and we weren’t going to, but it was right to confirm the factual position about a conversation and overall tone. The Quartet meeting, we always assumed, would take the length it time it had because this was a particularly sensitive time in the Middle East. In terms of getting the details right, it was important to get it right at this stage.

Put that Bertie Ahern had said this morning that the Prime Minister had confirmed with him that he had taken the job and that he expected it to be tricky, and could we confirm this, the PMOS replied that Bertie Ahern was someone with whom the Prime Minister had the utmost respect, but we had to wait for the outcome of the Quartet meeting instead.

Asked if it would be a surprise if the Russians were not to decide about the role until early July, the PMOS replied that he had seen nothing that would lead to that view.

Asked if people should expect an announcement on this today, the PMOS said that this was a matter for the Quartet, and not to decide.

Quentin Davies

Asked if the Prime Minister had contacted Quentin Davies, the PMOS said not that he was aware of.

Farewell

The Chair of the lobby asked if there were any further questions. None followed, and there was a period of applause. The PMOS then interrupted the clapping and said that in front of the lobby, he wanted to thank his No10 colleagues who had done a superb job.




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