Blair's time is up, says Cameron

Chris Gaynor

Prime minister Tony Blair faced mountain pressure to step down  in Prime Minister's Questions today as the feisty Tory leader David Cameron suggested that it was in the 'national interest' for him to go.

He said: 'When will the prime minister realise that it is all over?'Isn't that the whole problem with this government? In any organisation if you have got long-term problems, you can't have a short-term chief executive.'

The weekly duel began with the opposition leader continuing the theme of the scandal ridden Home Office where he probed the prime minister about whether Home Secretary Dr John Reid would still be in the job under a potential  Gordon Brown administration.

Cameron's points were made in the light of the fact that Reid had announced during the week that he would not quit as a beleaguered Home Secretary and said that it would take atleast two and a half years to fix the problems in the department.

But Cameron slammed the Home Secretary's comments claiming that because Blair was leaving in a few months time, it would be difficult to make any long term plans for departments.

Blair was grilled four times by the Tory leader but fudged the issue prefering to recite the usual New Labour spin claiming that 'crime had fallen,' since 1997.

On the Home Secretary remaining, Blair said: 'I can certainly guarantee that he will continue to make the investment in prison places, for example, in community support officers.'

But rather than bow to pressure Blair fought back claiming that it was in the 'national interest,' for him to stay and continue with reforms in health and education as well as drive forward  a strong economy.

The veteran Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell led calls for there to be a wholsale review of the law into rape, claiming that not enough was being done by the government to secure convictions for victims of rape.

But Blair said that enough was being done and that often it was difficult to secure convictions for rape crimes because often the crimes were commited by partners or ex partners.

A lacklustre performance by the prime minister, as Cameron appeared to hit a nerve in the Labour party, as backbench MP's eagerly await the  leader in waiting Gordon Brown.

Ironically, Chancellor Gordon Brown was not in question time today as he was in Edinburgh at a conference.