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Blair to step down within 12 months
Latest Updated by 2006-09-08 09:01:49
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British Prime Minister Tony Blair poses for photo on December 8, 2005.British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday that the Labor Party Conference to be held this month would be his last as a party leader, but wouldn't give an exact date for his departure.

Speaking after his visit to a north London school, Blair said: "It wouldn't be right to give an exact date for my departure now."

"I'm not going to set a precise date now, I don't think that's right. I will do that at a future date and I'll do it in the interests of the country and depending on the circumstances of the time."

"The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last as party leader," he said, implicitly confirming reports that he would step down before September 2007, when next year's Labour Party conference will take place.

"That doesn't in any way take away from the fact it's my last conference. But I think the precise timetable has to be left up tome and be done in the proper way."

Blair, who will reach his tenth in power next May, was forced to break his silence after two days of high political drama which saw eight junior government members quit.

He apologized on behalf of the Labor Party for the wave of resignations, saying "I mustn't treat the public as bystanders on such an important issue."

Iain Wright, one of the secretaries who resigned from the Department of Health, said he "believed that the party and the government cannot renew itself in office without urgently renewing the leadership."

Meanwhile, the wave of resignations also focused attention on John McDonnell, chair of the socialist Campaign Group of Labor MPs, who confirmed on Wednesday that he would compete in the next general election to succeed Blair.

Recent opinion polls showed that the Conservative Party has been taking the lead over Labor in support ratings, largely due to Blair's foreign policy, both in the war against Iraq, and the Israel-Lebanon conflict, not to mention his domestic policies of pursuing nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons.

Analysts here said that constant speculation about Blair's exit from Labor would do great damage to the party.

Although Blair announced in 2004 that he would not run in the next general election, he has refused time and again to set a timetable for his departure, insisting that he wanted to go ahead with the reforms instead of being pressed with the obsession of the exact time when he would quit his job.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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