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Blair takes up premiership

LONDON, May 2 -- Victorious Labour Party leader Tony Blair has assumed the role of prime minister after an audience with Queen Elizabeth II. Blair told cheering supporters in a sunlit Downing Street he would seek improvements in the national health service and education as well as working closely with the private sector to create a dynamic and competitive economy.

Blair also praised defeated Conservative Prime Minister John Major for his 'dignity and courage over the last few days and the manner of his leaving and the essential decency which is the mark of this man.' Blair said his party ran as New Labour and it will govern as New Labour. He said his victory is a mandate to get those things done in Britain 'that desperately need doing.' Blair says Labour will modernize the national health service. He said his party will work in partnership with business to create a dynamic and competitive economy of the future -- one that can meet the challenges of an entirely new century and age. Blair pledged to restore trust in politics by cleaning it up and decentralizing it. Looking to Europe, Blair said government under his leadership will strive to give Britain 'strength and confidence in leadership at home and abroad, particularly in respect of Europe.' ---

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