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Blair Vows to Stay on as PM: Reports

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has vowed that he would stay on as prime minister at least until after Iraq's elections next year amid intensified speculation among cabinet ministers that he might step down, local newspapers reported Sunday.  

The Observer said Blair wants to see the damaging conflict through at least until Iraq's planned elections next January that would allow him to claim a respectable legacy for his premiership.


One of Blair's friends was quoted as saying that "his view is: I got us into this, I'm not going to walk away while we are still in the middle of it."


Meanwhile, The Sunday Telegraph said Blair Saturday night furiously resisted mounting pressure to hold a new Commons vote on Britain's military commitment in Iraq as it was revealed that defense chiefs are privately discussing "strategic failure" in the war.


Allies of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, the No. 2 in the ruling Labor Party, have reportedly made detailed plans for a government run by him that would follow Blair's power handover as early as the party's conference this summer.


In an interview with the Times on Saturday, British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said senior ministers had discussed a future without Blair and were suggesting that they prepare for a seismic shift in government.


A YouGov poll published in The Sunday Times found that 46 percent of British voters surveyed said Blair, whose public support rate has plummeted since the Iraq war, should quit before next year's election, with only 20 percent maintaining that Blair should stay on.


Asked whether they trust Blair, 61 percent said "no" and 36 percent "yes," the poll showed.


Among the 2,014 voters surveyed on May 13-15, most of them said Brown is likely to succeed Blair.


(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2004)

Blair Apologizes for Abuses in Iraq
Blair Plans to Serve Third Term: BBC
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