No 10 denies Blair will resign as MP
Downing Street has denied reports that Tony Blair will stand down as an MP next week.
It had been reported that Mr Blair intended to travel to his local Labour club to tell supporters he would stand down as MP for Sedgefield when he left Downing Street.
Attributed only to ‘sources’, the speculation follows the prime minister’s confirmation that he would make a statement on his future next week. In a television interview, Mr Blair said he would have “something definite to say then”.
However, a Number Ten spokesman insisted “the only announcement the PM will be making next week regards his future as leader of the Labour party.”
Sources close to the prime minister suggested Mr Blair is schedule to visit Sedgefield next week, increasing speculation he will make any announcement in front of a local audience.
Mr Blair’s resignation as MP would contradict earlier assurances that he planned to serve a full term in parliament. It would also trigger a by-election at the same time as the Labour leadership contest.
The prime minister has represented Sedgefield since 1983 and received a clear majority with nearly 60 per cent of the vote in the 2005 general election.
He is widely tipped to officially announce his resignation as prime minister next week. He travels to Northern Ireland on May 8th for the reopening of the Stormont assembly and is expected to officially resign soon after.
His statement will trigger a seven week leadership contest. The chancellor Gordon Brown is widely tipped to succeed Mr Blair as prime minister.
It remains doubtful whether he will face a challenger for the leadership or be appointed outright. The environment minister David Miliband, considered his most credible opponent, has ruled himself out for the bid.
He could face a left wing challenge from either Michael Meacher or John McDonnell. Both MPs have announced they would stand for the Labour leadership, but doubts were raised whether either would be able to achieve the 45 nominations needed to make the ballot.
However, the pair have confirmed they will coordinate their campaign, with the candidate with the least backing standing aside to avoid splitting the left wing vote.