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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Who will rid me of this troublesome PM?

Blair faces crisis over resignations

Matthew Tempest and agencies
Wednesday September 6, 2006
Guardian Unlimited

Tony Blair today faced an implosion of his authority after seven government members resigned in protest at his refusal to publicly name a departure date.

After today's Sun claimed Mr Blair would resign as Labour leader next May and step down as PM in July, a junior minister and six parliamentary private secretaries quit in rapid succession on a day of high Westminster drama.

Although all seven resignations were from junior posts, the fact that each MP had been a loyal Blairite led the Conservative leader, David Cameron, to claim the government was "divided and in meltdown".

Article continues
The Liberal Democrat leader, Menzies Campbell, said the national interest was "not being served by the continuing uncertainty over Mr Blair".

The chancellor, Gordon Brown, was spotted leaving the rear of Downing Street earlier today after what was reported to be an angry and uresolved conversation with the prime minister.

Unlike in previous crises, there was a conspicuous lack of cabinet ministers taking to the airwaves to defend the prime minister.

However, the former cabinet minister David Blunkett warned Mr Brown and his supporters to "back off".

"It is now in Gordon Brown's - and the Labour party's - best interests for those seeking the prime minister's immediate departure to back off," Mr Blunkett said.

"This is not only to avoid our opponents exploiting the impression of disintegration and division, but also to avoid the split of our party, which would have lasting consequences."

Mr Brown has made no public comment on the unfolding events today.

Problems mount ahead of conference

Labour now appears to be facing an imminent and serious crisis, with little more than two weeks to go before the party conference in Manchester.

Although Mr Blair went into last year's election promising not to stand again, his declaration to serve a "full third term" was quickly changed to allowing his successor "ample" time to settle in.

posted by Steve @ 3:44:00 AM

3:44:00 AM

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