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Blair Resists Pressure to Step Down

Pressure on embattled British Prime Minister Tony Blair reached new heights Sept. 6, 2006, as a junior minister and at least five government aides resigned, calling for the British leader to leave office "urgently."
John D. McHugh
/
AFP/Getty Images
Pressure on embattled British Prime Minister Tony Blair reached new heights Sept. 6, 2006, as a junior minister and at least five government aides resigned, calling for the British leader to leave office "urgently."

Tony Blair is facing a growing rebellion over the question of when he plans to step down as Prime Minister.

A Blair ally gave an interview Tuesday hinting that Blair would step down within a year. But it didn't quell the stirrings of dissent within the Labor Party. On Wednesday, seven Labour Members of Parliament stepped down in protest.

The British government system has no term limits for a Prime Minister, so Tony Blair could go on until the next election, which is likely to take place in 2009. But he has promised to allow his successor time to settle in before that next election. His likely successor is Finance Minister Gordon Brown, a man with whom Blair is known not to be particularly close, and who is known to feel that Blair has stayed too long already.

In the swirl of Westminster politics, where it's always hard to tell fact from gossip and spin, there has even been a suggestion that Wednesday's resignations were orchestrated by the Brown camp in order to force Tony Blair's hand.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Gifford
Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.