Is Tony Blair On His Way Out?

| Wed Sep. 6, 2006 2:59 PM EDT

Troubles for Tony Blair, hit today by a wave of resignations by junior members of his government. They're ticked off at his refusal, so far, to say when he'll step down. (The Sun newspaper has reported that he'll go on 31 May, something the PM's office won't confirm.)

Is this a plot by allies of Gordon Brown, Blair's antsy heir apparent? If so, says this BBC analysis, "they have to decide if they are going to follow it through. Will this become not just this group of relatively junior folk - but senior cabinet ministers, as they did with Thatcher in 1990, saying to the PM, 'you need to go and you need to go soon'?"

Problem is (for Brown), Blair's pals in the party can't stand him.

Can they bring themselves to work with Gordon Brown to make a reality of this awkward phrase "stable and orderly transition"? They haven't so far for one good reason - they don't want Gordon Brown to become PM. They wanted their man to stay in office so someone else could emerge. If they can bring themselves to work with Brown, perhaps he'll call the dogs off. Perhaps.

(Here's a BBC rundown of the other possible contenders for Blair's job, which includes this description of Brown: "Has been circling Tony Blair for years, like a dog watching the family cat squatting in its basket.")

If Brown doesn't call the dogs off (...the cats?), Blair could be gone in weeks. Meanwhile, the Conservatives, riding higher than they have in years, are pronouncing the government "in meltdown."