EXCLUSIVE: Blair doesn't trust Brown on reforms, say Cabinet two
By Ian Kirby
TONY BLAIR has decided to stay on as Prime Minister until 2009—because he doesn't trust Gordon Brown to deliver his radical reforms.
Two senior Cabinet ministers have told the News of the World he has SCRAPPED his plans to hand over leadership to the Chancellor at the end of next year.
Further proof of the PM's intention to stay in Downing Street comes with news that the Blairs have rented out their "retirement home" in London's Connaught Square for a further year. After that, security renovations to the house are expected to take at least another 18 months.
It indicates Mr Blair will carry out his original promise to serve a FULL third term in office, remaining in Downing Street almost three more years.
Two of his Cabinet colleagues say Mr Blair returned from his Easter break determined to battle on. One told us: "Any talk of him planning an early departure has receded in the past month.
Now there's no departure date at all. When I spoke to him this week he said he had to get the job done—and would be here for as long as that takes."
The other minister added: "He knows he's not going on for ever, but is aware it could take another three years to finish what he has started.
We are now looking at a retirement a few months before the general glection—giving Gordon time to get his feet under the desk."
Lasting reforms of the NHS, schools, the House of Lords and police forces— promised in Labour's 2005 manifesto— are all due to take at least four years.
Mr Blair also bluntly refuses to step down while 7,000 British troops are still deployed in southern Iraq.