Tony Blair has warned his government that there will be no room for complacency when parliament returns from the Christmas break.
Looking ahead to 2004, the prime minister said there was much work still to be done and spoke of his determination to press ahead with key reforms.
The last few months of this year have been difficult for Mr Blair, with question marks over his health, a damaging revolt against his plans for foundation hospitals and the threat of an embarrassing Commons defeat over higher education funding.
But despite these challenges, the PM said he relished the opportunity presented by the New Year.
"This is no time to turn the clock back, no time to coast, no time to falter with the job only half done," he warned. "I relish the challenge ahead and I am confident that in partnership - government and people - we can take the next important steps forward in 2004."
Mr Blair gave no indication that he was planning to make way for Gordon Brown, although speculation surrounding the alleged deal between the pair is bound to resurface next year.