Tony Blair may choose Wednesday to tell the Queen that he intends to stand down as Labour leader and end a decade as her Prime Minister.
A public announcement on Mr Blair's plans to quit the Labour leadership is expected on Thursday, following his promise of a "definitive" statement on his future this week. Mr Blair's plans for the future, and Gordon Brown's expected arrival at 10 Downing Street, are likely to dominate the weekly session of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons. Both the Prime Minister and the Queen flew back to London on Tuesday night, and many at Westminster expect Mr Blair to use his regular weekly audience at Buckingham Palace to inform Her Majesty in advance of his intentions. But his official spokesman was unable to confirm whether an audience was scheduled. Audiences traditionally take place on Tuesdays, but can be held on a different day when that is more convenient. The official spokesman stressed that there was no constitutional requirement for the Prime Minister to tell the Queen that he plans to step down as Labour leader, and declined to discuss whether he would do so as a matter of courtesy. Mr Blair's expected announcement on Thursday will not trigger his immediate departure as Prime Minister, but will kick off a process expected to result in the handover of the reins of power to Mr Brown close to the start of July. The statement will come hot on the heels of Tuesday's restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, which Mr Blair hopes will cement peace in the province as a central part of his legacy as Prime Minister. Mr Blair returned from Belfast following the historic scenes at Stormont as the Queen was flying home from her visit to the United States.