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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 November 2006, 15:57 GMT
Blair 'should go after election'
Tony Blair with Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell says Tony Blair should stay until after May
First Minister Jack McConnell has called on Tony Blair to remain in office until after next year's Scottish Parliament election.

He told the BBC that he would prefer the Labour leadership to change hands next summer, rather than before the Holyrood vote in May.

During the interview Mr McConnell heaped praise on Chancellor Gordon Brown and other Cabinet ministers.

However, the first minister would not be drawn on his preferred candidate.

Mr Blair has already said he will stand down as prime minister in the next year.

I'm a great admirer of Gordon Brown, but I'm also a big admirer of many other figures in the Cabinet
Jack McConnell
First Minister

The first minister of Wales has suggested that he should go before the May elections.

Rhodri Morgan believes that such a step might improve Labour's prospects in the Welsh Assembly and Holyrood polls.

Several Labour MSPs have made similar calls and at one point the party's deputy leader in Scotland, Cathy Jamieson, refused to acknowledge Mr Blair as a campaign asset.

However, Mr McConnell said he would prefer to have the Labour leadership election take place after the May election.

Speaking to Andrew Marr on Sunday AM, he said it would be wrong to speculate on the outcome of the contest.

Mr McConnell comes across like a rabbit caught in the headlights of the movement towards independence
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

"I'm a great admirer of Gordon Brown, but I'm also a big admirer of many other figures in the Cabinet," he added.

Mr McConnell also predicted that people would "think twice" about supporting independence if they were given the option in a referendum.

He argued that holding a referendum on independence would create economic uncertainty.

However, Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond claimed the idea of a referendum was supported by more than 80% of people in Scotland.

He said: "Mr McConnell comes across like a rabbit caught in the headlights of the movement towards independence."


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