LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair will not step down until late June. But, with his announcement that he is leaving politics after ten years as the leader of Britain's government, the national media has already shifted over to speculation about the past-his-sell-by-date prime minister's determination to make a fortune on the international lecture circuit -- "The Blair Rich Project," the BBC has dubbed it -- and on his successor.
Blair's slow exit strategy should benefit his long-time man in waiting, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who will spend the coming week's campaigning for a coronation.
Brown hopes to secure the Labour Party leadership without a fight and then assume the prime ministership on Blair's exit. If he does so -- as is likely -- it will be the end of one of the most extended periods of understudy in British political history.