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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blair Calls For Early Elections

LONDON -- British opposition leader Tony Blair said Monday he would do all he could to force an early general election and end 17-1/2 years of Conservative rule.

He said Prime Minister John Major was presiding over a "weak, rudderless and incompetent" government whose drift was damaging Britain.

"It's time to move on. It is time to leave the tired, decaying Tories [Conservatives] behind. That is why we will do all we can to force an early election," the Labour Party leader said.

The last date for the election is May 22, but Major's parliamentary position is increasingly fragile. His overall majority in the 651-seat House of Commons fell to just one on Sunday with the death of Conservative member of parliament Barry Porter. The majority, which stood at 21 after the last election in 1992, will be wiped out completely, assuming Labour retains the safe seat of Barnsley East left vacant by the recent death of a Labour MP.

And the Conservatives would be in a minority if Labour were to overturn Porter's majority of 8,183 in his northwest England constituency of Wirral South.

The contest for Porter's seat is likely to be held in early 1997, and far bigger Conservative margins have been swept away during the course of the present parliament.

The parliamentary arithmetic would still be in Major's favor because all the opposition parties would have to unite to vote down the Conservatives in a no-confidence vote.

But Blair, whose party enjoys a lead of about 20 percentage points in opinion polls, said he would certainly push for a no-confidence vote if the opportunity presented itself. "In respect of parliamentary tactics, we will pursue any tactics that are responsible," he said.