Rechazado proyecto de ley antiterrorista en Inglaterra

LONDON, England (Reuters) — Britain’s Tony Blair faces a fight to shore up his ailing political authority on Thursday after his first parliamentary defeat over new anti-terrorism powers raised doubts about his political future.
Six months after he overcame opposition to his support for the Iraq war to win a third term in office, a slew of front page newspaper headlines asked: «Is this the beginning of the end?»
Dozens of members of Blair’s ruling Labour Party rebelled in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday against plans to let police hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge.
«Teflon Tony is dead,» veteran Times columnist Peter Riddell wrote, referring to Blair’s old nickname, earned for his ability to resist political damage. «Forget all the excuses … the vote was a turning point.»
Blair had sought the new police powers after Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people in London on July 7.
Police said they needed more time to hold suspects to allow them to collect evidence in complicated terrorism cases.
However, civil rights groups argued the change from the current 14 days would erode long-held freedoms and drive people towards extremist groups.
Parliament agreed and said ‘No’ to the plans by 31-votes.
The fallout dominated television news bulletins and newspaper front pages, with many asking if Blair can survive.
«Blair’s blackest day», «On his way out» and «Blair suffers blow to power» were among the headlines next to black-bordered photographs of a pensive-looking Blair.
«This is a prime minister whose credibility, like his authority, is ebbing away,» the Independent said.
The Guardian offered Blair some crumbs of comfort.
«(It) does not make Mr. Blair’s position untenable,» the pro-Labour newspaper said in an editorial. «But it makes his position more fragile than ever before.»
A defiant Blair, who has endured a torrid time since he was re-elected with a reduced majority in May, insisted he was right to support the 90-day proposal.
«I don’t think it is a matter of my authority — of course I would have preferred to have won rather than lost,» he said.
Blair admitted last week that «times are tough» after his key ally David Blunkett quit earlier this month as work and pensions secretary for breaking ministerial rules.
In a further setback, Blair’s top team of ministers last month had a bitter public row over a proposed smoking ban which saw the government position repeatedly waver.
Blair, who swept to power in 1997 as the youngest prime minister since 1812, has seen his once sky-high support fall since he supported the United States in the 2003 Iraq war.
He said last year he won’t stand for a fourth term, prompting critics to call him a «lame duck» premier.
Some commentators say Blair faces a rough ride in the next few months, with doubts over his chances of winning support for key health, education and welfare reforms.
Foreign affairs could give him more trouble.
Blair’s hopes for a plan to alleviate poverty in Africa could be sunk if ministers fail to agree a deal at trade talks in Hong Kong in December.
On Europe, the prime minister must try to end years of wrangling by securing a budget deal at a European Union summit in December.
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