Blair denies quit speculation

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Tony Blair has today dismissed press reports suggesting he is preparing to announce his departure as prime minister after next week's local elections.

Speculation has been rife in this morning's newspapers that Mr Blair is set to quit Number 10 following the votes in Scotland, Wales and the English regions next Thursday.

Such reports come amid a rising expectation that Labour is set for a poor showing at the ballot boxes, with a new opinion poll today putting them at five percentage points below the Conservatives.

The Daily Telegraph's YouGov survey suggests that the Tories would gain 37 per cent of the national vote compared to Labour's 32 per cent if an election was held today.

But when asked at a news conference in Poland whether there would be an announcement on his future after the local elections, Mr Blair was more adamant than he has often been when questioned about his future.

"You know I never discuss these issues at all but I wouldn't hold your breath about this," he said.

Mr Blair last year came under increasing pressure to announce a timescale for his departure as prime minister after previously confirming he would not serve a fourth term.

After a number of resignations among minor members of the Labour party, Mr Blair announced last September that he would quit within 12 months.

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