Most Britons think 'Blair should resign'

Most British people believe Prime Minister Tony Blair should resign amid mounting scepticism about his reasons for invading Iraq, a new survey says.

    Tony Blair is accused of invading Iraq on false pretences

    According to an opinion poll published on Saturday, 51% of respondents agreed

     it was "now time for Tony Blair to resign and hand over

    to someone else".

    Only 35% of respondents gave a definite "no" to the question, the poll for The Independent newspaper showed.

    The findings end a difficult week for the prime minister, which

    saw him forced to order an investigation into whether there were

    failures of intelligence before the war.

    The poll also found that 54% thought Blair lied to Britain about the

    threat posed by Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction before

    the campaign last year to remove Saddam Hussein.

    Mounting pressure

    Blair faces mounting political pressure about the fact that no

    stocks of chemical or biological weapons have been found in Iraq,

    nine months after the fall of Baghdad.

    Tories led by Michael Howard are
    gaining from anti-Blair backlash

    Before the war, the prime minister insisted to a sceptical

    country it was correct to join the US-led conflict because

    Saddam's arsenal of illegal weapons posed an immediate threat to the


    The telephone poll of 1003 people showed the main

    opposition Conservative Party has benefited from the backlash

    against Blair, with 36% of people backing the Tories against 35%

    for Blair's Labour Party.

    On Tuesday, Blair announced a former head of the civil

    service would lead an inquiry into pre-war information about Iraq's

    weapons of mass destruction.

    However Saturday's poll showed 68% of people believe

    the probe will end up being a "whitewash".

    45-minute claim

    Similar charges were levelled against a report by judge Lord

    Brian Hutton, who at the end of last month exonerated Blair's

    government of deliberately exaggerating a dossier on Iraq's


    Hutton instead lambasted the BBC for reporting that a claim Iraq

    could unleash chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes had

    been inserted by ministers even though they knew it was wrong.

    However, even this issue has returned to haunt Blair.

    On Wednesday, Blair was ridiculed by critics after admitting

    when the 45-minute claim was made, he had no idea whether it

    referred only to short-range "battlefield" weapons or also to

    missile-launched devices.



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