Blair Will Still Be PM Next Week, He Won’t Resign

This morning there is some confusion about the Lobby, the PMOS told the Lobby this morning that

“the Prime Minister was not announcing his resignation as Prime Minister next week. That is not what he would be doing. What the Prime Minister would be doing would be setting out his intentions but he would not be resigning as Prime Minister next week. Asked if he was resigning as leader of the Labour Party, the PMOS said it was a Party, not Government matter and the question the PMOS had been asked was about the Prime Minister’s role as Head of Government. After the Prime Minister has announced his intention he will remain Prime Minister. Asked if the Prime Minister would not go and see the HM the Queen next week but after the leadership contest has been concluded, the PMOS said at last the penny had dropped.”

Last week Blair himself said he would be making a party related announcement. Before the 2005 general election Guido suggested that Blair might opt for the Aznar option to square his promise to serve a full term. Look closely at the form of words Blair used prior to Labour’s party conference:

“I think what is important now is that we understand that it’s the interests of the country that come first and we move on. I would have preferred to do this in my own way… The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader, the next TUC conference next week will be my last TUC – probably to the relief of both of us.”

That word formula commits him only to standing down as leader of the party. Nothing about standing down as PM.

Blair can argue that he gave a commitment to the people at the general election to serve a full term and the voters gave him that mandate. He can also argue that he gave a promise to give the next leader of the Labour party time to bed in. If he stood down as Labour leader but not as PM he could keep both promises. It would also let him keep his grip on power as he tries deserately to get radical Blairite policies and reforms implemented.

José María Aznar lost the support of the people who had voted for the Partido Popular in 2000 and had to pledge not to run again. In January 2004 Aznar called new elections and designated his candidate, Mariano Rajoy, sticking to his pledge of not seeking office for a third term.

Is the Aznar option in Britain so outrageous? Has Blair given up the fight for Blairite policies and accepted his legacy will be Iraq and criminal corruption charges against his aides?

Guido is certain that Blair will still be PM next week, he will be resigning only as party leader. Could he shaft Brown one last time? Would the Labour party support him as PM until the next general election? Outrageous? At his last conference as leader he told us “there are no rules in politics”



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