Blair is warned of 'civil war' in party

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair and senior ministers are to mount an effort to reach out to mutinous Labour MPs after the Prime Minister's Commons defeat on anti-terror laws.

The Government was warned yesterday it risked a "civil war" with its parliamentary party and an ex-cabinet minister forecast up to 100 Labour MPs could rebel over education reform.

Desperate to put a turbulent fortnight behind them, ministers admitted they needed to do more to make the case for roversial legislation to their own MPs.

Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, will begin meeting MPs this week to set out the thinking behind a proposal to remove schools from local authority control. And Mr Blair, who acknowledged receiving a "rough ride" from backbenchers last week, is promising to meet every Labour MP to set out the case for the reform by the time of the Bill's publication in February.

The scale of the task facing the Government was underlined by Frank Dobson who warned that up to 100 Labour MPs could rebel over education reforms. He told ITV 1's Jonathan Dimbleby show that the 49 backbenchers who rebelled last week could be joined by another 40 or 50 Labour MPs. Mr Blair will have to "listen and hear", he said.