Gay MP talks about Blair ‘plots’
Gay MP Chris Bryant has spoken to PinkNews.co.uk about news reports that he is urging the Prime Minister to stand down.
BBC Radio 4’s Today programme reported that a letter from MPs including Bryant asking Blair to set a departure date has been drafted.
The MP initially refused to make any comment when contacted by PinkNews.co.uk.
When pressed on whether the letter existed, Bryant said: “If I had written a letter to the Prime Minister it would be a private letter.”
Press reports this morning said that at least two letters have been drafted to Mr Blair requesting his departure, including one from 38 MPs elected in 2005.
Commentators have noted that one letter is backed by a large number of MPs elected in 2001, meaning that the two most recent intakes of Labour MPs, who should be Blairite, are unhappy with the current situation.
The letters have not yet been delivered to Downing Street, the BBC reports.
44-year-old Mr Bryant, the MP for Rhondda, recently resigned as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Constitutional Affairs minister Lord Falconer.
He is a former Anglican priest, and caused controversy earlier this year after auctioning a copy of the Hutton report, signed by Cherie Blair, to raise funds for the Labour party.
He has been open about his sexuality throughout his career, and was previously seen as a personal favourite of Mrs Blair.
His decision to leave the government is significant as it indicates the level of unhappiness about Mr Blair’s refusal to name a departure date.
Lobby journalists report that the majority of backbench Labour MPs want the Prime Minister to announce his departure at the party’s annual conference, being held in Manchester later this month.
However, Mr Blair has defied his party once again, declaring in an interview with The Times last week that he has no intention of telling the party his future plans, a move that infuriated activists and MPs worried about keeping their seats at the next election.
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This morning David Miliband, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, admitted on the Today programme that twelve months is a reasonable timetable for the Prime Minister to go.
Mr Miliband brushed aside questions about a leaked memo from Downing St outlining a Blair ‘victory tour’ of Britain to mark the end of his leadership.
The tour was to include farewell appearances on Blue Peter and Songs of Praise.
Meanwhile a Times Populus poll placed David Cameron’s Conservative Party above Labour regardless of who is in charge at the next general election.
Gordon Brown is still regarded as almost certain to become Prime Minister when Mr Blair quits.
Other contenders are rumoured to be John Reid and Alan Johnson, though there is speculation that Blair wants his protege Miliband to take over.