I'll quit next summer, says Blair to his ministers
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told some ministers that he plans to step down next summer amid pressure.Updated: May 14, 2006 20:59 IST
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has told some ministers that he plans to step down next summer amid pressure from within his Labour Party and recent scandals involving a few of his favourites in the cabinet, reports said on Sunday.
Blair was forced to spell out the timetable for his departure to senior colleagues as Labour's raging civil war threatened to engulf his leadership, it said.
His private assurances back up the public pledge Labour MPs forced out of him last Monday that he would give "ample time" to his successor to prepare to fight the next election, 'The Independent' newspaper said.
One cabinet minister, asked if he had been told by Blair that he was going next summer, said, "I'm not going to tell you exactly what Tony said but I wouldn't disagree with that." The minister is not considered to be an ally of Brown.
Another minister said "almost half the Cabinet" had now been given private assurances about a departure date by Blair.
But the Prime Minister told senior colleagues he would continue to refuse to confirm the arrangement in public because he fears the Tories would "mount a countdown clock in Westminster".
He hopes to leave vague the exact date while admitting it will be between next May's local, Scottish and Welsh elections and the autumn party conference.
In the past, Blair has insisted he would serve a "full term", and allies have suggested he would go in 2008 at the earliest.
First Published: May 14, 2006 20:59 IST