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6 British Officials Quit Blair Government

Six British officials have quit their government posts over the refusal of Prime Minister Tony Blair to name a date for resigning as the leader of the Labor Party.

The members of parliament are part of a group of 17 legislators who signed a letter Tuesday urging Mr. Blair to set a date for his resignation.

In response Wednesday, Mr. Blair branded the most senior of the rebel lawmakers, Tom Watson, disloyal and wrong for signing the letter, which was later released to the media. The prime minister said he would have fired Watson if he had not resigned.

Mr. Blair said last year he would not seek a fourth five-year term, and he has said he will leave office before elections set for 2010.

Several British newspapers reported Wednesday that Mr. Blair will step down as prime minister by the end of July 2007.

Among the reports, the London tabloid The Sun said Mr. Blair will leave office July 26 after his party elects a new leader. Mr. Blair's office has not commented on the reports.

The prime minister's popularity has waned amid controversy over the war in Iraq and a string of government scandals.