Problem of invasion British troops in Iraq: Blair is drawn a bead on

Opposition parties accused British Prime Minister &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Tony Blair of deceit over Iraq in bitter election campaigning on Thursday, saying a leaked report by his top law expert questioned the legality of the U.S.-led invasion.

But two opinion polls showed Blair remained firmly on course to win a third successive term in the May 5 general election and one survey said Iraq was a minor issue for voters, with only three percent saying it would decide which party they backed.

The leaked document, however, dominated newspaper front pages and led television and radio bulletins, denting Blair's efforts to try and capitalize on a buoyant economy and other domestic issues that he sees as vote winners, tells Reuters. British troops were marshalling on the Iraqi border, amid rising expectations of an invasion and massive public resistance to it, with more than 1m people protesting on the streets of London, informs FT News.

The highly charged domestic political atmosphere was being fuelled by arguments about the international legal position. The US, UK and Spain were trying to get the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>UN Security Council to approve a resolution stating Iraq was in breach of an earlier council agreement resolution 1441 of November 2002 which had given Mr Hussein a “final opportunity” to disarm.

But the very day the memo was drafted, evidence emerged casting doubt on whether Iraq was in breach of resolution 1441. Hans Blix, UN chief weapons inspector, reported that Iraq had made “substantial” progress in destroying its long-range missiles, and that he had found no evidence of biological or chemical weapons.

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