In an emotional address to supporters, friends and family in his own constituency, Tony Blair acknowledged his shortcoming as Prime Minister and justified his controversial decisions.
He apologised directly for mistakes but urged voters to believe he had genuine motives:
“Hand on heart i did what i thought was right,” he said.
“I may have been wrong that is your call but believe one thing if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.”
Mr Blair said he was proud he had delivered “equality for gay people” and made a point of mentioning the change in culture in Britain in the last decade.
“People are open minded about race or sexuality, they’re averse to prejudice but rightly conservative with a small c when it comes to manners.”
Mr Blair finally revealed when he will be leaving office.
“The party will now elect a new leader and on 27th June I will tender my resignation to the Queen.
“I have been Prime Minister for just over 10 years and in this job in the world today I think that is long enough for me and more importantly long enough for the country.
“The only way you conquer the pull of power is to put it down.”
Overall the speech was positive defence of his record and the change in Britain.
He thanked his constituency election agent and his “wife, friend and partner” Cherie and their children “who never let me forget my failings.”
A visibly moved Mr Blair said he had entered Downing St in 1997 with high hopes.
“Britain is not a follower today, Britain is a leader. It gets the essential characteristic of today’s world – it is interdependent.
“It is a country comfortable in the 21st century, at home in its own skin, able not just to be proud of its past but also confident in its future.
“I leave with even higher hopes for our country – I have been very lucky and very blessed and this country is a blessed nation.
“This country is a blessed nation. The British are special. The world knows it, in our innermost thoughts, we know it.
“This is the greatest nation on earth. So it has been an honour to serve it.”
He then wished the country good luck.