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Blair to Announce Departure Plan
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Downing Street confirmed on Wednesday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair will "make an announcement" on his future as Labor leader on Thursday morning.

Blair would tell cabinet colleagues about his intentions on Thursday morning but would make no public statement in Downing Street before making his plans public in a speech in his Sedgefield constituency, said his official spokesman, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported.

The spokesman said Blair would be "focused" on the job of being prime minister until his successor is chosen by Labor in about seven weeks.

Downing Street said earlier that Blair would be "fully engaged" across domestic and international affairs until he steps down. These include the reform on health and education, as well as the forthcoming G8 and EU summits.

Heavyweight contesters from the cabinet are now all giving up their bid for the Labor leadership so as to keep a united Labor following its blow in the local elections. Chancellor Gordon Brown is the clear favorite to succeed Blair, but he still has to wait about seven weeks to take over.

Blair has expressed his support for Gordon Brown to lead the Labor party into the next general election, saying that the party can bounce back from its latest poll setbacks.

"Gordon Brown by contrast is completely thought through," said Blair, adding "He has steered our economy from one of boom and bust to one of the best in the world."

"He didn't do it by choosing the easy way. He did it by sound judgment, holding his nerve and putting the long-term interests of Britain first. At general election time, that is still the route to victory."

In last Thursday's mid-term local elections across Britain, the Labor lost Scotland and gave ground to the Conservatives. And the Labor was ousted as the biggest force in the Scottish Parliament and was left looking for a coalition partner to keep power in the Welsh Assembly.

(Xinhua News agency May 10, 2007)

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