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'Triple Whammy' of Bad News Sets Blair Aback

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has taken a beating in the British press, after what one paper called the most chaotic day since the Labour Party came to power nine years ago. Three of Blair's senior ministers were the subject of negative headlines Wednesday, fueling media speculation that Blair's time in power might be nearing an end.

In what British newspapers are calling "Blair's Black Wednesday," three domestic officials hurt the prime minister's reputation. The Home Secretary apologized to Parliament for the accidental release of hundreds of dangerous foreign prisoners. Second, the Health Secretary was jeered off stage during a speech. And third, the Deputy Prime Minister admitted to an affair with a secretary.

Blair's political future is the source of constant speculation in the media in the United Kingdom. Having promised he will step down at the end of this, his third term in office, the newspapers are full of reports that Blair's departure will be much sooner than that.

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Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.