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Heart scare for Tony Blair

October 20, 2003 09:03 IST

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is back at his official residence in Downing Street after being admitted to a London hospital with an irregular heartbeat.

Blair was at his country residence in Chequers when he felt unwell and was taken to a nearby hospital, which referred him to the Hammersmith Hospital in West London.

Although Downing Street insists the 50-year-old PM's health is as robust as ever, and that his work will not be affected, the hospital stay does raise questions.

Blair has been under enormous stress following the inquiry into the suicide of government scientist Dr David Kelly, who told the BBC that the British government 'sexed up' its Iraq claims.

Critics of the war have accused government officials, and Blair in particular, of hounding Dr Kelly to death.

Blair has also been criticised for a whole range of controversial government policies, including plans to raise tuition fees for college students.

Last week former minister and ex-actress Glenda Jackson said the government would be in a stronger position if Blair stepped down and that there was no lack of talent and ability to lead the Labour Party to its third general election victory.

"I have no desire whatsoever and nor do I believe the majority of the people in this country to see the return of a Conservative government. I want a Labour government returned at the next election", Jackson said in a television interview on Sunday.

"But I do not believe that we are so bereft of talent and ability that Tony Blair is the only man who could lead us to a third victory."

Shyam Bhatia in London