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Blair refuses to set departure date

Thursday, August 31st 2006 - 21:00 UTC
Full article

Tony Blair has faced down Labour rebels by refusing to set a timetable for his departure.

Amid growing calls for him to indicate when he intends to quit Downing Street, the Prime Minister insisted: "I have said all I am going to say."

In an interview with The Times, Mr Blair also warned those "obsessing" about his departure risked derailing the stable and orderly transition he has promised.

"If people want stable and orderly change, they should not keep obsessing about it in the meantime but, instead, get on with the business of government," he said.

"What will increase our problem in the polls is if people think that we are either paralysed as a government or have run out of steam because we are debating this issue continually."

Mr Blair said he had done what no other prime minister ever had. "I've said I won't fight another election. I've also said, on the record, that I will give ample time to my successor." That should be enough for "anyone reasonable", he added.

"I really think it is absurd for people who say we must stop this continual speculation about the leadership continuing to speculate about it."

His comments appear to suggest that he will not use next month's Labour Party conference to go further, as had been hoped by many of his critics.

He also pledged there would be no diversion from the New Labour agenda, insisting it was the only path to electoral success.

Mr Blair said: "We only won because we were a different type of Labour Party. We must maintain that."

Categories: Mercosur.

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