Friday, 6 May 2005
655 = 36%
Tony Blair will face a full in-tray when he returns to his desk at No 10 Downing Street on Friday morning. Some key decisions which have been postponed because of the election will now have to be faced, with key reports on council tax and pensions due soon.And the process of deciding Labour's future spending plans will begin in earnest, with a slowdown in the growth of the public sector on the cards.
On Friday morning, Tony Blair outlined five key domestic priorities for the next Parliament: reform of the public services like health and education; further welfare reform to get more people back into work; pension reform; improvements to the immigration system; and tackling "disrespect" in the classroom and the community.
But his reduced majority means he may face difficulty from within his own party on many controversial issues.
TAXES AND SPENDING
PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM
The first few months of his third term, however, could well be dominated by foreign policy issues.
Britain is hosting the G8 Summit of world leaders in Glenagles, Scotland, at the beginning of July, and is planning to use the occasion to push for further movement on climate change and increased aid to tackle poverty in Africa - both issues on which the Prime Minister will face resistance from his close ally, President Bush.
And Britain will also assume the presidency of the European Union on 1 July, taking the lead on key negotiations for six months.
Among the most sensitive issues could well be the future of the European Constitution, unless the French reject it in their referendum on 29 May, which could throw the whole EU into crisis (with Britain in charge of sorting it out).
The government has pledged to call a UK referendum and ask the British public to support it whatever the outcome of the French referendum.
Given the widespread public scepticism about the EU constitution, if the government wants to win that referendum, which is widely expected to take place in the spring of 2006, the campaign would have to begin soon.
And finally, the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons could come to a head sooner rather than later, within Britain a key member of the group of EU countries that is trying to persuade Iran to abandon nuclear reprocessing.