Tories fear `feelgood' effect on May election

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The Independent Online
SENIOR TORIES fear that Tony Blair will try to exploit the Prince of Wales's wedding by announcing just a few days before the nuptials that a general election will be held on 5 May.

Ministers believe Mr Blair will announce the day on Monday, 4 April. There would then be a scramble to rush Bills through Parliament, which would be prorogued on the Thursday, the day before the wedding.

But news of the wedding has killed off the prospect of an election before 5 May. There had been speculation about a March or April poll to capitalise on Labour's opinion poll lead.

The Tories suspect Mr Blair has orchestrated the timing of both events. One Shadow Cabinet member said: "It was clearly part of the spin to try to give Blair a feelgood factor."

Downing Street said Mr Blair had known about the wedding "for some time", but his official spokesman said the news was not passed on to Alastair Campbell, the former No 10 communications director who has been brought back for the election.

But in Russia yesterday, Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the State Duma foreign affairs committee, said Mr Blair will not attend the Second World War Victory Day celebrations on 9 May because he plans to hold the election on 5 May. The Prime Minister said yesterday: "I've not set a date."

Sketch, page 25

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