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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 01:06 GMT 02:06 UK
Blair story sparks feeding frenzy
Newspapers (generic)

Wednesday's newspapers have reached fever pitch over the possible departure of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Sun goes furthest, naming the date he will step down as Labour leader - 31 May 2007 - and as prime minister - 26 July, although Downing Street is silent.

It was the Sun that memorably said the 2001 elections would definitely go ahead on 3 May despite foot-and-mouth, only for them to be postponed.

Could lightning strike the newspaper twice?

Smooth transition

The Daily Telegraph dubs Tony Blair's departure "the long goodbye", and says Labour could tear itself apart between now and next spring.

The Times talks about 100 Labour MPs insisting Mr Blair must name the date or face mounting pressure.

Columnist Alice Miles argues talk of a smooth transition is wrong and that Britain needs a leadership contest.

The Daily Mail goes with the Sun's bold prediction and says 31 May, but claims Gordon Brown was not consulted.

Silence critics

The Guardian says allies of chancellor Gordon Brown are not happy with the absence of a public declaration from the prime minister.

And, the paper says, they want Blairite critics like Stephen Byers and Alan Milburn to be stopped from commenting on the future of reforms.

In the Independent, the front page is dominated by pictures of 12 MPs it says have signed a letter to Mr Blair.

It also carries a piece from minister John Hutton demanding a proper contest.

Brutal exit

The Daily Mirror relegates the furore over Tony Blair's departure to pages 10 and 11, while its leader column says "Cool this exit fever".

After years of Tory in-fighting, Labour politicians should be careful about wishing for Mr Blair's brutal exit, the newspaper suggests.

The Daily Express says that Mr Blair's use of minister David Miliband to calm things has not worked.

And the Financial Times notes how bookies believe Mr Blair will leave next year.

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