Tony Blair/Timelines

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A timeline (or several) relating to Tony Blair.


Father's stroke, 1964.  Fettes College, 1966-71.  Oxford, 1972-1975.  Labour party membership, 1975.  Mother's death, 1975. Law pupil of Derry Irvine, 1976-77. Bar Finals and entry to chambers, 1977.  Employment law practice, 1977-82.  Candidate for Beaconsfield by-election, 1982.

MP for Sedgefield, 1983.  Maiden speech to the House of Commons[1].  Assistant spokesman on Treasury matters, 1984.   Deputy spokesman for Trade and Industry 1987.   Shadow Secretary of State for Employment, 1988.  Member of National Executive Committee of the Labour party, 1989.  Shadow Home Secretary, 1992.


May 12th: The Labour Party leader John Smith dies of a heart attack.

May 31st: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown discuss the leadership election at a private meeting at the Granita restaurant. (Reports that a deal was done at that meeting have since been denied[1]).

June 1st: Gordon Brown announces his support for Tony Blair's candidature.

July 21st: Leader of the Labour Party.

October: Speech to Labour party conference[2] We have changed. We were right to change. Parties that do not change die, and this party is a living movement not an historical monument.



  • Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997[3] - established the statutory authority for the establishment of a decommissioning commission and the for the granting of an amnesty against the prosecution of those who surrendered their weapons.


May: General election - Labour wins 419 of the 659 seats. Gordon Brown is appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Announcement that the Bank of England to be given responsibility for the execution of monetary policy in accordance with published government targets (see Bank of England Act 1998).

June: Britain signs the European Union's "Social Chapter"[4] of the EU's Maastricht Treaty - (with its directives on health and safety, working conditions, consultation of workers, sex equality with regard to job opportunities and treatment at work and protection of pensioners and unemployed).

August 26: Anglo-Irish agreement to set up an Independent International Commission on Decommissioning [5](The Decommissioning Act, 1997 in Ireland and the Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997 in the United Kingdom)

August 31: Tony Blair mourns the death, in a traffic accident in France, of Princess Diana, calling her "the people's princess."

September: Devolution referendums in Scotland and Wales come out in favour (by 74.3% in Scotland and 50.3% in Wales)

October: Gordon Brown announces the five tests that must be met before Britain joins the European Common Currency.

December: Backbench concern about proposed reductions in disability benefits[6]




  • Bank of England Act, 1998[7]
  • Competition Act, 1998[8] - aligns UK law with EC law (prohibiting restrictive practices and the abuse of a dominant position}
  • Crime and Disorder Act[9] - Antisocial Behaviour Orders
  • Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act[10] - enabled courts to take account of a suspect's refusal to answer questions during the course of an investigation into membership of a terrorist organisation.
  • Human Rights Act[11] - gives effect to rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights[12];
  • Teaching and Higher Education Act [13] - created a new professional standards body (The General Teaching Council), and introduced tuition fees for university students


April: The Belfast Agreement[2] ("The Good Friday Agreement") creating a power-sharing assembly in Northern Ireland.

September: NATO ultimatum to President Milosevic of Yugoslavia to cease aggression against Albanians in Kosovo[14].

October: President Clinton signs the Iraq Liberation Act,1998[3] establishing US policy to remove the Saddam Hussein regime.

December: Operation Desert Fox: Britain and the USA launch air strikes against Iraq after reports that Saddam Hussein is not complying with United Nations weapons inspections.



Policy statements and legislation

  • Immigration and Asylum Act 1999[15] - replaced welfare benefits for asylum seekers with vouchers, introduced fines for transporting illegal immigrants, restricted the use of marriage for immigration purposes.
  • Modernising Government White Paper[16] - "joined-up thinking" and the elimination of unnecessary regulations.
  • The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Establishment and Constitution) Order 1999[17].


February: Rambouillet Conference[18] fails to establish a Kosovo settlement

March: Operation Allied Force[19] - air strikes against Serb forces in Kosovo.

May: First elections to the Scottish Parliament and for the Welsh National Assembly. In Scotland, the Labour Party wins an overall majority and takes power under First Minister Donald Dewar. In Wales, Labour wins the largest share of the vote, (but the Welsh nationalists (Plaid Cymru) have their best ever election results).

June: Withdrawal of Serbian troops from Kosovo and the end of the NATO bombing campaign.

September: Speech to the Labour Party Conference[20] " the 21st century will not be about the battle between capitalism and socialism but between the forces of progress and the forces of conservatism. "



Policy documents and legislation

  • Freedom of Information Act[21] - created a statutory right of access to information held by public authorities except matters relating to security or parliamentary privilege, court records and personal information, and other matters, disclosure of which would be against the public interest.
  • NHS Plan[22] - a revised delivery system; changes between health and social services, career changes for doctors and nurses; and a change in the relationship between the NHS and the private sector.
  • Terrorism Act 2000[23] - extends the definition of terrorism, increases powers of entry and arrest; permits judge-authorised 7-day detention of suspects without charge; enables the seizure of property and finance.


May 7th Operation Palliser[24]: British army stops the civil war in Sierra Leone

May 20th: Birth of son, Leo Blair - the first child born to a sitting Prime Minister for more than 150 years.

June 7th: Speech to the Womens Institute[25] (heckled and slow handclapped)

September 5th: Fuel protests over rise in petrol prices[26]

September 26th: Speech to Labour Party Conference[27] " And they think: you're not listening. What's it got to do with me? Where is this journey's end? And a fog descends on the very dialogue between Government and people necessary to get there...And, yes, there are things we have done that have made people angry and we should be open enough to admit it.




Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001[28] - enabled the home secretary to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, foreign nationals who were suspected of terrorism, and . limited appeal, except on a point od law, to a closed commission.

Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001[29] - introduces on the spot penalties for disorderly behaviour; measures dealing with the consumption of alcohol in designated public places, the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 18, drunkenness and disorder on licensed premises, permitting the police to close down licensed premises where disorder is occurring and measures to permit the police to close unlicensed premises selling alcohol


February 15th: British and American aircraft attack targets outside Baghdad[4]

February 19th: Outbreak of foot and mouth disease[30] triggering a year-long farming crisis with the slaughter of thousands of pigs and cattle, and leading to calls for a public inquiry[5]

February 23rd: Meeting with President Bush[31] - "We reaffirm our determination to oppose the development or use of WMD and ballistic missiles by Saddam Hussein and the threat his regime poses to its neighbors, while seeking to protect the Iraqi people from the brutality of Saddam Hussein and his indifference to their humanitarian needs. We call on Iraq to comply with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions."

June: General election: - Labour re-elected by winning 413 of the 659 seats in the House of Commons on a reduced turnout (59 per cent).

September 11th: Terrorist attacks on the USA: four aeroplanes are hijacked by members of al-Qaeda; two are crashed into the World Trade Centre, New York, a third into the Pentagon, Washington.

October 1st: Speech to the Labour Party Conference[32] "For those people who lost their lives on September 11 and those that mourn them; now is the time for the strength to build that community. Let that be their memorial."

December: Afghanistan: the Security Council authorizes International Security Force for Afghanistan and welcomes United Kingdom’s offer to be initial lead nation. Resolution 1386 (2001) adopted unanimously[33]

Responsibility to Protect. Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty[34]




  • Education Act 2002[35]
  • Enterprise Act 2002[36] - created the Office of Fair Trading and strengthened mergers policy.
  • NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002[37] - reformed the distribution of functions between Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts and set up the Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals.
  • Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002[38]


January 1st: The euro becomes the main currency across the European Union

January 15th Foundation hospital plan announced[39] - (independent self-governing legal entities with their own borrowing powers that are subject to the rules of the NHS but are independent of government departments and health authorities[40])

February 3rd: Speech at the Labour Party annual conference[41] We're at our best when we're at our boldest.

March 8th: Cabinet considers the Iraq "Options Paper"[42] (the paper concludes that: "despite the considerable difficulties, the use of overriding force in a ground campaign is the only option that we can be confident will remove Saddam and bring Iraq back into the international community").

April 8th: Meeting with President Bush at his ranch at Crawford, Texas ("The Crawford meeting") - including a one-to-one meeting with no advisers present: The only commitment I gave, and I gave this very openly, at the meeting was a commitment to deal with Saddam (Tony Blair in testimony to the Chilcot inquiry.[6]).

Speech at the George Bush Senior Presidential Library ("The Texas speech")[43] - "...we must be prepared to act where terrorism or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threaten us...If necessary the action should be military and again, if necessary and justified, it should involve regime change... leaving Iraq to develop WMD, in flagrant breach of no less than nine separate UN security council resolutions, refusing still to allow weapons inspectors back to do their work properly, is not an option.

September 24th: Publication of the Joint Intelligence Committee's dossier of evidence concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, with a foreword by Tony Blair[44] in which he said ""What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons.".

November 8th: United Nations Resolution 1441[7] - "Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to resolution 660 ...Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions".




  • Anti-social Behaviour Act[45] - gave police new powers to deal with misbehaviour
  • Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003[46]
  • Northern Ireland (Monitoring Commission etc.) Act 2003 [47]


January 23rd: Meeting with President Bush (at the Chilcot inquiry in 2010, Tony Blair answered yes to the question Was your main objective at that meeting to convince the President that, just as you had convinced him that it was important to go through the UN to get the first resolution, that now it was necessary to get a second resolution? [8]).

February 3rd: Publication of second intelligence dossier Iraq-its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation[48] (this document was removed from the national archives in April 2010)

February 5th: US secretary of state's address to the United Nations Security Council[49]. "Iraq has now placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in U.N. Resolution 1441. And this body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows Iraq to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately".

March 4th: Mori poll indicates that 75% of Britons are in favour of an Iraq war[50].

March 7th: Attorney General's advice [9] - "... I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force ... Nevertheless, I accept that a reasonable case can be made that resolution 1441 is capable in principle of reviving the authorisation in 678 without a further resolution."

March 17th: Resignation speech by Robin Cook (Leader of the House of Commons) [10] - " Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner".

March 18th: Declaration of war. The House of Commons motion that the Government should "use all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction"[51] was carried. Tony Blair, proposing, said : "To retreat now, I believe, would put at hazard all that we hold dearest, turn the UN back into a talking shop, stifle the first steps of progress in the Middle East; leave the Iraqi people to the mercy of events on which we would have relinquished all power to influence for the better". The voting for/against was 412/149. (Labour 254/84, Conservative 146/2 Lib Dem 0/52[52])

March 17th: Ultimatum to Iraq by President Bush "All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict ..."[53].

March 20th: Iraq War - US forces launch first air strikes on Baghdad.

March 27th: The "Coalition of the Willing": The White House lists 49 countries that have offered to support "Operation Iraq Freedom"[54] including Japan, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the UK.

May 1st: President Bush declares an end to major combat operations in Iraq

May 12th Resignation letter from cabinet minister Clare Short[11] - "the assurances you gave me about the need for a UN mandate to establish a legitimate Iraqi government have been breached".

May 29th: On the BBC's Today programme, defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan says that he had been "told by one of the officials in charge of the dossier that, actually the government probably knew that the 45 minute figure was wrong even before it had decided to put it in" and that "Downing Street... ordered it to be sexed up"

July 9th: The Ministry of Defence names Dr David Kelly, a biological warfare expert with the British Ministry of Defence as the source for Andrew Gilligan's report.

July 18th: David Kelly is found dead, apparently having committed suicide.

July 17th: Address to the US Congress, accepting the Congressional Gold Medal.

July 21st Announcement of an inquiry into the death of Dr Kelly to be led by Lord Hutton[55]

August 28th Tony Blair's testimony to the Hutton inquiry[56]

November: Meeting at Admiralty House at which Tony Blair promises to resign before the next election provided that Gordon Brown supports his policy agenda.




  • Asylum and Immigration (treatment of claimants etc) Act[57]
  • Civil Partnership Act[58] enabled same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship by forming a civil partnership (marriage in all but name).
  • Higher Education Act 2004[59] - replaces the fixed student charge of £1125 by variable fees of up to £3000, and introduces student loans in place of fees.


January 27th: Debate on the Higher Education Bill[60] 72 Labour MPs rebelled, and the government won by just five votes.

January 28th: The Hutton Report determines[12] that Kelly took his own life, and that the BBC allegations were unfounded. The chairman and director-general of the BBC, and Andrew Gilligan, the journalist who made the allegations, all resign.

February: Appointment of a panel to conduct an inquiry into pre-war intelligence, led by Lord Butler.

25 March: Talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, after Libya renounced Weapons of Mass Destruction in December.

April 20th: Announcement of a proposed referendum on a new EU constitution.

June 15th: A New Relationship with Schools[61] published jointly by Ofsted and DfES .

July: 10-year science & innovation investment plan[13].

July 14th: The Butler report is published. It criticises the intelligence basis for claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and says that the assertion that Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes was unsubstantiated. However, the report found no evidence the intelligence had been manipulated by Blair and his aides.

September 15th: Speech on the urgent need for action on climate change.

September 30th: Iraq Survey Group Final Report[62] - "There is an extensive, yet fragmentary and circumstantial, body of evidence suggesting that Saddam pursued a strategy to maintain a capability to return to WMD after sanctions were lifted by preserving assets and expertise. In addition to preserved capability, we have clear evidence of his intent to resume WMD as soon as sanctions were lifted".

October 1st: Tony Blair announces that if he wins the next election he will serve a full term[63].

October 13th Michael Howard accuses Tony Blair of lying about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction[64].

November: George Bush is re-elected President of the USA.



Policy documents and legislation

  • Constitutional Reform Act[65] - created a new Supreme Court; removed the Law Lords from membership of the House of Lords; changed the office of Lord Chancellor so that the holder is no longer the formal head of the judiciary; provided a statutory guarantee to uphold judicial independence and the rule of law.
  • Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005[66] - enables Ministers to issue a "control order"[67] (an order to place a terrorism suspect under close supervision).
  • White Paper Cm 6472 Controlling our borders: Making migration work for Britain[68] - A five-year plan to crack down on illegal immigrants and provide for their removal, including fines for colluding employers. A proposal for the introduction of a points system based upon industry's needs for skills.
  • White Paper Cm 6476 14-19 Education and Skills[69]


May 5th: General election: the Labour government remains in power but with a much reduced parliamentary majority of 64 seats.

May 29th: French voters reject the EU proposed constitution in a referendum.

June 15-17: European Union summit[70] - British officials reject a budget plan for the years 2007-2013, after offering to freeze Britain's budget rebate in return for a guarantee that the EU's system of agricultural subsidies would be overhauled.

June 23rd: Speech to the European Parliament[71] "If we [are]... prepared to send back some of the unnecessary regulation, peel back some of the bureaucracy and become a champion of a global, outward-looking, competitive Europe -- then it will not be hard to capture the imagination and support of the people of Europe."

July 6th: London wins bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

July 7th: Suicide bombers kill 52 people in attacks on London mass transport.

July 8th: The G8 summit in Edinburgh, agrees to increase aid for developing countries by $50 billion.
"if we actually make sure that there is universal access, right, to HIV-Aids treatment by 2010, ... put the money we say we are going to put through aid and give primary education to young people in Africa ... . establish the peace-keeping force that we have got there, plus the money necessary to do it ... " (press conference 8 July 2005[72] )

November 9th: Government defeat in a House of Commons debate on the clause in Terrorism Act that would have enabled the police to detain a suspected terrorist for up to 90 days without charge.




  • Education and Inspections Act 2006[73]
  • Equality Act 2006[74] - created the Equality and Human Rights Commission with a remit to make a progress report to Parliament every 3 years
  • Health Act 2006[75]: Prohibited of smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.
  • Identity Cards Act[76] - created the legal framework to establish a national identity register and to issue identity cards (never applied to British citizens)
  • Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act[77]
  • Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006[78] - provided for the restoration of devolved government
  • Racial and Religious Hatred Act
  • Terrorism Act 2006[79] -extends the maximum period of detention without trial of terrorist suspects from 14 to 28 days.


May 23rd: Labour back bench revolt over schools bill[80]

July 12th: Fundraiser Lord Levy[14] is arrested and bailed by police as part of their investigation of the "cash for honours" allegations[81].

September 5th: One minister and four government aides are among 17 Labour MPs who have written to Tony Blair urging him to quit[82].

September 7th: Tony Blair confirms that he will step down as prime minister within the next 12 months[83].

September 12th: Tony Blair's last speech to the Trades Union Congress.

September 26th: Speech to the Labour Party Conference[84]

October 13th: The St Andrews Agreement[85] between the governments of the UK and Ireland that lead to the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

November 15th: The Queen's Speech to the State Opening of Parliament - Tony Blair's final legislative programme[86]

December 14th: Police interview Tony Blair about the "cash for honours" allegations.



May 8th: Restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive[87]. - announced by the Reverend Ian Paisley, head of the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Gerry Adams, head of the Catholic Sinn Fein. "We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future for our children." (Ian Paisley). "The beginning of a new era of politics on this island." (Gerry Adams).

May 10th: Resignation speech at his Sedgefield constituency [88] "This is the greatest nation on earth. It has been an honour to serve it. I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short.

June 27th: Last Prime Minister's Questions "I wish everyone, friend or foe well, and that is that, the end."


June: High Quality Care For All NHS Next Stage Review Final Report, [89]



December 12th: Interview with Fern Britton[90] - asked whether he would still have gone on with plans to join the US-led invasion had he known at the time that there were no WMD. He said: "I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat."


January 29th: Tony Blair's evidence to the Iraq Inquiry [91] (transcript) [92] (Video)

March 9th: Report of House of Lords and House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights[93] - dealing with adverse judgments by the European Court of Human Rights and declarations of incompatibility issued by the domestic courts under the Human Rights Act.



Second statement to the Chilcot Enquiry [94]


References, with page numbers, to Tony Blair's memoirs (Tony Blair: A Journey, Hutchinson, 2010) are shown as "Journey (xxx)", and
references to Anthony Seldon's biography (Anthony Seldon: Blair, Free Press, 2004) are shown as "Blair (xxx)".