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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 May 2007, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Blair 'will not quit yet as MP'
Tony Blair
Mr Blair is to announce a Downing Street leaving date next week
Downing Street has denied a report that Tony Blair will reveal next week that he is resigning as an MP.

The Press Association said it had learned Mr Blair was planning to make the announcement on 11 May, a day after he gives a date for leaving Number 10.

But Downing Street said the only comment would be on his future as PM.

Meanwhile, allies of ex-home secretary Charles Clarke have told the BBC he has enough support among MPs to run for Labour leader when Mr Blair goes.

'Not heard'

PA reported that Mr Blair would travel to his Sedgefield constituency on 11 May to make the announcement that he was quitting Parliament, triggering a by-election.

But Mr Blair's election agent, John Burton, told the BBC he had not heard anything to this effect.

The prime minister's official spokesman added: "The statement next week will be solely about the PM being leader of the Labour Party.

"He's made no decision whatsoever to stand down as an MP and very firmly remains MP for Sedgefield and proud of it."

Recent reports suggested the prime minister would stand down before the next general election, possibly at this autumn at Labour's annual conference.

Mr Blair has already announced his intention to stand down as prime minister but he has yet to set a date.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said his sources had not denied that Mr Blair was likely to stand down as an MP before the next general election, expected to be held in 2009.

Clarke support

Meanwhile, supporters of Mr Clarke told the BBC they had gathered the necessary backing of more than the 45 MPs needed to mount a bid for the Labour leadership.

However, Mr Clarke is said to remain undecided about whether to stand.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is the strong favourite to succeed Mr Blair.

So far, only left-wing backbenchers John McDonnell and Michael Meacher have announced they will stand in any contest to become Labour leader.

It is thought unlikely either will get the support of 45 MPs and that one will have to step aside.

Sources close to Mr Meacher, a former environment minister, told the BBC there would be a meeting next week to decide whether he or Mr McDonnell MP would run.




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