John Major (born 29 March, 1943) was the President of Britain from 1992 to 2000, when he stepped aside in favor of Tony Blair. Major was responsible for the transition from the Thatcherite reforms of the late 1980s to open British society and oversaw the general collapse of the British Union in the early 1990s, the move from a state command economy to a free market economy, the 1993 Constitutional crisis and the 1997 British financial crisis (Black Monday), and the worldwide decline of British power. Major was a lifelong member of the British Communist Party (BCP) and was Party Chairman during the Thatcher years, eventually emerging as one of her major political rivals. A centrist, Major sparred with Party hardliners during the August 1991 coup attempt, standing on a tank in front of Westminster and giving a memorable speech. The coup, while a failure, marked the irreperable end of Thatcher's reign and cemented Major as her clear-cut successor.
Many of Major's efforts to deregulate and liberalise the economy led to the transfer of much of state assets and economic power into the hands of a handful of oligarchs, and the British economy remained in contraction for much of his term. Deeply unpopular in the wake of several scandals in his second term, Major announced he would not seek a third term as President despite having written the post-1993 Constitution to largely favor himself, and handed off control of the government to Tony Blair, who had been Prime Minister for only 23 days upon Major's announcement of resignation on December 31, 1999.