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New Prime Minister Brown Pledges Change for Britain

Britain ushered in Gordon Brown as prime minister Wednesday to replace Tony Blair, who served a decade in office. A British journalist and a foreign policy analyst provide some insight on the new prime minister's vision for Britain.

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    The contrast in the House of Commons this morning could hardly have been more striking. Tony Blair, who dominated the British political scene and shone on the international stage, on the cusp of handing over power to his long time number-two, Gordon Brown, the taciturn Scot.

    Today brought Brown's moment. After a visit to Buckingham Palace for an audience with Queen Elizabeth, who formally invited him to form the new Labour government, Brown spoke outside Number 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's official residence.

    GORDON BROWN, Prime Minister of Britain: I have been privileged to have been granted the great opportunity to serve my country. And at all times, I will be strong in purpose, steadfast in will, resolute in action, in the service of what matters to the British people.


    Brown became leader of the majority Labour Party last month, and thus, with Blair's departure, prime minister. He's the first Scot to run the country in more than 40 years.

    Brown served in Blair's government for more than a decade. As chancellor of the exchequer, Brown controlled the treasury, creating an Independent Bank of England. He oversaw increases in public spending for education and health care, made possible by soaring tax revenues. Today he said he would take Britain in a new direction.


    I've heard the need for change, change to build trust in government, change to protect and extend the British way of life.


    Brown did not mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today; they'll loom large on his foreign policy agenda. The new premier will encounter a British public now set firmly against the Iraq war. Protesters gathered outside Downing Street today to jeer Blair on his last day.

    BRIAN STEVENSON, Stop the War Coalition: I'm very glad to see him go. I'm not sure there will be much of a change in foreign policy, but at least there's one murderer gone.


    A hundred and fifty three British troops have died since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And although the U.K. has drawn down its forces, about 5,500 British troops remain in southern Iraq.

    Brown must also carve out his own relationship with the U.S. and President Bush, as the American administration approaches its final year in office. Blair deepened the Washington-London alliance over the last six years; that led to widespread dissatisfaction within the Labour Party, which Brown now hopes to remedy.