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Leaving Downing Street

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 27 June 2007

Carol Thatcher talks to Baroness Jay and Sir Bernard Ingham about ceasing to be prime minister.

"Every prime minister departs number ten in their own way. My mother shed a tear, John Major headed straight to the cricket.

But the fact remains they are losing their job, their central London home number ten and a pretty good weekender in Chequers - and all the power that goes with being prime minister.

Blair's avoided the swift humiliating exit of electoral defeat but I wonder if he'll escape the sense of loss that my mother so deeply felt when she was turfed out.

Carol Thatcher: He seems remarkably well adjusted at this stage. How do you think when it happens he's going to feel?

Baroness Jay: Oh I think it will be quite a moment of truth.

Baroness Jay whose father Jim Callaghan was PM for three years in the late seventies remembers her father felt relief as well as regret.

Baroness Jay: I don't know about your mother but certainly my father, at the end of his time being prime minister, was genuinely quite tired, and said so, and was genuinely quite pleased to have a bit more relaxation time. I don't think Tony will want very much of that I suspect he will move on very rapidly.

But at only 54 Tony Blair still has more than a decade before he's even due to retire.

Sir Bernard Ingham: They're no longer taking meetings, nobody's coming to them with problems. He will have to summon up his car rather than having somebody doing it for him. And this I think will be the big emptiness that there isn't the same infallible machine that there was to look after you.

Carol Thatcher: My mother's official car when she was no longer prime minister used to avoid Whitehall because she'd look up and wonder why it hadn't turned in - it hadn't turned in because she was no longer prime minister. Do you think every former prime minister for a few days, possibly weeks, experiences some shell shock?

Baroness Jay: Yes maybe - I suspect it may be worse if it's someone in your own party.

No more audiences with the queen, no longer the most important person in British politics.

Carol Thatcher: What about the perks of the job disappearing?

Baroness Jay: Well of course the point about things like the telephones being taken out, that's pretty devastating - you suddenly realised that the hotline to all over the world is not there anymore and the famous number ten switchboard with its amazing service of being able to find anybody anywhere is not yours to play with as it were.

But as my mother's PA said to her the first day she was no longer prime minister: "Don't look back you're not going there.""

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