LondonNet News Headlines
02/04/01
Blair Confirms Election Delay
- June 7 replaces May 3 as poll date following foot and mouth outbreak

PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair has confirmed feverish press rumour that the local and general elections will be put off until June.

"Having carefully weighed all the arguments I have decided that the national interest is best served by postponing these elections until June 7," Blair said late this morning.

Until the weekend, Blair and most of his close advisers had argued that to delay the elections would send out the wrong signals to tourists, whose numbers have declined sharply since the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in pigs, sheep and cattle.

But Blair now appears reluctant to be seen to harm the feelings of farming communities at a time of deep distress. The opposition Tory Party, marooned far below Blair's Labour Party in opinion polls, has long argued for an election delay and is now expected to demand the Prime Minister wait until at least the autumn. That looks unlikely as Blair will be aware that the effects of a world economic downturn could have devastating consequences on the perception that his government runs a tight financial ship.




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