View Full Version : Blair Will Stand Down By Mid 2007

05-15-2005, 09:56 AM
Blair will stand down by mid 2007


By James Cusick, Westminster Editor

Tony Blair has privately assured the Chancellor Gordon Brown that he will not serve a full third term in Downing Street as Prime Minister and will stand down within two years.

Details of the deal, contradicting the Prime Minister’s comments that he will serve out a full term, have been passed on by key allies of Brown to senior members of the government and leading figures in the trade union movement.

Brown is understood to have insisted that any incoming leader would need a minimum of 18 months to two years to establish strong leadership in the party and put in place the political authority needed for a new prime minister to win Labour a fourth consecutive term.

In return for a period of post-election calm and the withdrawal of any coup threat, Blair is understood to have accepted that he will go by mid-2007 at the latest.

The call for peace by the Chancellor follows growing unrest in the rebel ranks of the Parliamentary Labour Party and among some trade union leaders that Blair has not kept his immediate post-election promise that he will “listen and learn”.

Last week, the leader of the Amicus union, Derek Simpson, urged Blair not to cling to power.

Fearing a public coup would damage any future leader who followed Blair, Brown and key advisers have, in the words of one source, “called off the dogs”.

Among the more pragmatic wing of the Labour’s rebellious rump, the mood in recent days has evidently changed. The Labour MP, Ian Davidson, who last week was warning of an imminent “train smash” for New Labour, said that the key message from last Wednesday’s meeting of the PLP was that Blair “was not going to stay a full term”.

Davidson and others have since begun using conciliatory language about Blair’s future in Number 10. Davidson said yesterday: “The Prime Minister said he will listen and learn. We will now see if that is implemented and put into practice.”

The message of short-term conciliation over immediate coup, has, over the last three days, been amplified in private briefings given by MPs and advisers close to Brown.

One source told the Sunday Herald: “No-one is calling this a cast-iron agreement, because in politics no such thing exists. But there is now an understanding that Gordon Brown – or whoever takes over as leader after Tony Blair – will be given ample time to establish his credentials as prime minister. Will that be at the very end of this Labour third term? No it won’t.”

Today one of the Chancellor’s close allies, the former transport union general secretary, Sir Bill Morris, will effectively issue a public warning to plotting

15 May 2005