Is Tony clearing the decks for an early announcement?

Is Tony clearing the decks for an early announcement?

    Is 18/1 on a 2006 exit announcement good value?

I was very struck by this recent comment in the Times by Mary Ann Sieghart

Every time I read a story claiming that Tony Blair won’t leave office until May or June or July, I become even more convinced that he is planning an early exit. Why? Because the only weapon left to him is surprise. If he wants to go with dignity, it has to be on his own terms. So the best ploy for him is to wait until there is a break in the clouds — an agreement in Northern Ireland, perhaps? — then startle us all. It could be either side of Christmas, but I bet it won’t be as late as next spring. When I try out this idea on people close to Blair, they deny it strongly. He has so much to do, they say; he isn’t acting like a man about to go. Well, that’s not inconsistent with the plan, is it? Either they are not in on the surprise or, if they are, they don’t want it shared by journalists.

A big problem with this is that he needs to chalk up some wins quickly, especially as the pressure from the Yates inquiry seems to be growing by the day.

    One interpretation of Tony Blair’s call for the involvement of Syria and Iran is that he is doing it to show that he still does have influence over American policy and George Bush – that there is something that is recoverable from his commitment over the past few years?

If he can establish that then it will enable him to depart on a much more dignified basis.

I remain convinced that the big driver on the date issue is the Yates Inquiry and Blair might want to do something before he is interviewed. A pre-emptive move might give him the opportunity for a more dignified departure.

There’s surely more than a 6% chance that this will happen before the end of the year which is why I’ve put some more money on a Q4 announcement at 18/1.

Latest Blair leaving date odds are here.

Mike Smithson

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