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Senior Member of British Government Resigns Over Blair Iraq Policy - 2003-03-17


A senior member of the British government has resigned because of Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision that British forces will participate in an attack on Iraq, even without a further resolution from the U.N. Security Council.

The leader of the ruling Labor Party's parliamentary delegation, Robin Cook, resigned Monday during a brief meeting with Prime Minister Blair. Mr. Cook, who was foreign secretary during Mr. Blair's first term, had indicated he might resign if the prime minister decided to go to war against Iraq without specific Security Council approval.

Mr. Cook was seen leaving the prime minister's residence and office at Number 10 Downing Street just before a scheduled emergency cabinet meeting on Iraq, which he would have attended.

Prime Minister Blair's tough stance on Iraq has cost him politically. More than 100 members of his own party failed to support him in a recent parliament vote on Iraq. He is expected to face even more opposition from within his own party in a parliamentary debate on Iraq scheduled for later this week.

He has relied on the opposition Conservative Party to get his Iraq policy approved in the House of Commons.

Some Labor Party activists want to remove Mr. Blair from office.

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