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March 09, 2003

Blair Faces Revolt/Resignations on Iraq

See this UK report:

Military action could result in the rebellion of up to 200 MPs and the resignation of as many as ten members of Mr Blair's Government, according to a straw poll in Westminster.

News that some MPs could quit their roles as Parliamentary Private Secretaries will come as an unwelcome blow to Mr Blair, aggravating the wound he suffered last month when 121 Labour MPs voted against possible military action.

There are 412 Labour members of parliament. If accurate, this report means that Blair may be approaching numbers where he could be dumped from office.

Update: The first top Cabinet minister in Blair's cabinet, Clair Short of the International Development portfolio, announced her likely resignation:

CLARE SHORT dealt a body blow to Tony Blair last night by declaring that she would resign from the Government if he failed to secure United Nations backing for war against Iraq.

Posted by Nathan at March 9, 2003 08:29 AM

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Yeah, that means 200 Labour MPs, plus about fifty Liberal Democrats (or just about all of them). Just about all the Tories support Blair (with some big exceptions).
Labour has a huge majority: Blair can only fall from within. A vote of no confidence makes everyone run again for election, so we can't expect that. And Blair has been very popular and without any real challengers. Brown is the obvious guy. Hey, am I just repeating the article? Anyway, Blair looks a mess, all the papers are talking about him falling, he might really go.
I thought the UK papers would front-page the Niger nuclear fraud, also from British intelligence like the plagiarized dossier, and end Blair's career. For some reason, they buried the story (OK, I haven't heard the BBC).
I'm just ranting. But if Blair falls, Bush has no war.

Posted by: John Isbell at March 9, 2003 04:36 PM

I should say: or if Blair backs down. People often do that in a tight spot.

Posted by: John Isbell at March 9, 2003 04:37 PM

The crisis moment comes when Blair decides to go to war without a new UN Security Council resolution.

For months now the path of least resistance for Labour MPs has been to say they won't countenance military action against Iraq without "a second resolution". This has allowed them to save face with both sides: to the Prime Minister and other pro-war forces they can say that they accept the principle of military action but that their internationalist commitments require them to "go through the UN"; to antiwar people in parliament and their constituency parties, they can say that the only military action they might conceivably endorse is that sanctioned by the United Nations.

If Blair gets his UN resolution, most Labour MPs -- whatever they privately think of the war -- will go along with the Bush onslaught. It's if he doesn't that things get interesting, as then all the Labour MPs who have parroted the "no military force without UN authorisation" line will have to either kick their Prime Minister in the teeth or to fall meekly into line. If lots take the first alternative, then Blair becomes very vulnerable.

Some will no doubt move each way -- but the good news today is that Andy Reed has resigned as parliamentary bag-carrier to Margaret Beckett, a senior minister, which is the first opening in the Government's armour...

Posted by: Chris Brooke at March 9, 2003 06:43 PM

Next up, Robin Cook?

Posted by: Tom Runnacles at March 9, 2003 10:11 PM

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