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Highs and lows of UK campaign

LONDON, England -- As the UK's election campaign nears its close, CNN's Sarah Sultoon looks back at the key moments of the race.


May 8, 2001 -- Blair names UK election date

Incumbent Prime Minister Tony Blair declares June 7 as the polling date, just two hours after a 20-minute meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at which he sought formal consent to dissolve Parliament and set an election in motion.

The announcement is made at a south London girls' school flanked by Education Secretary David Blunkett, provoking criticism that Blair is exploiting the emotive value of schoolchildren.

May 9, 2001 -- Europe emerges as key campaign issue

The first full day of campaigning sees Blair put Britain's relationship with Europe at the heart of his battle for a second term of office.

Committed to holding a referendum on the country's entry to a European single currency, Blair describes the campaign as "a chance to explain the big issues and the country's destiny and direction."

May 9, 2001 -- Final Parliament sees Blair and Hague clash

Blair and Opposition leader William Hague clash over Europe during their last confrontation in Parliament before the election.

With both sets of supporters roaring them on, Hague says the "central deception" of the last election was that Blair stated then that he "loved the pound" before preparing to join a single European currency.

May 12, 2001 -- 'Hitler' jibe on issue of Europe

Sir Peter Tapsell, a senior Conservative, compares German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's vision of Europe to Adolf Hitler's.

Hague distances himself from Tapsell's remarks, which also demand Britain never join the single European currency.


May 17, 2001 -- Fight brings campaign trail to life

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is involved in an undignified scuffle with a protester, punching a man who threw an egg at him as he arrived for a party rally in Rhyl, north Wales.

Blair describes the incident as "regrettable" but refuses to criticise his deputy. Prescott said his reaction was self-defence to "a very hostile environment."

May 17, 2001 -- Wobbly Wednesday overshadows manifesto launch

Blair is harangued by a woman protesting over poor cancer care and the Home Secretary Jack Straw, responsible for law and order, is booed and slow-handclapped by the Police Federation.

The Prescott incident takes place on the same day, dominating the headlines instead of Labour's manifesto launch, in which the party promises not to raise income taxes for five years and to boost Britain's public services.


May 23, 2001 -- Thatcher: 'Never' join the euro

Former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher returns to the political stage telling Tory supporters they have "16 days to save the country."

She calls the Labour party "rootless, empty and artificial," and accuses him of destroying her legacy.

May 25, 2001 -- Issue of Europe sharpens fight for power

Blair warns a Conservative government would lead Britain into isolation. The Tories accuse him of being scared to abstain from the single currency.

Thatcher backs Hague and says "if you have a single currency you give up your independence. You give up your sovereignty. That we must never do."


June 1, 2001 -- Thatcher warns of 'dictatorship'

Thatcher warns of an "elective dictatorship" if Labour wins the vote after some opinion polls suggest the Conservatives could suffer a worse defeat than in 1997 when Tony Blair swept to power with the biggest majority in 150 years. "I applaud strong government, but not overweening government sustained by cronies, ciphers and a personality cult," she says.

June 3, 2001 -- Blair fears landslide predictions

Tony Blair dismisses talk of a landslide victory as "pie in the sky" after opinion polls predict the Labour party will coast back into number 10 with a larger majority than in 1997.

Calling on supporters to register their vote, Blair says: "I would just like to point out to people, we've not actually had this election result at all and if people want the things that we want…people have got to come out and vote for it.


June 4, 2001 -- Kennedy aims to swoop

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy says his party can become the second most powerful in the UK as he seeks to capitalise on the poor showing for the Conservatives in opinion polls.

Kennedy tells voters they need to send Blair "an urgent reminder" of the need for more funding for education and health.

June 5, 2001 -- Press boost for Blair

Labour gains the support of two major national newspapers as the election campaign enters its final phase.

Breaking with precedent, the Times -- Britain's oldest daily broadsheet -- offers "a cautious, but clear" endorsement of Labour. The backing is coupled with a similar nod from the Financial Times.

June 6, 2001 -- Last push for votes

The party leaders embark on whistle-stop tours of the UK to drum up last minute support before the polls open.

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