Britain's Blair to face questions over party rebellion

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair was expected to respond Thursday to a rebellion within his party ranks which forced him to rely on votes from opposition Conservatives to pass an education bill.

Blair is also expected to be questioned at his monthly news conference Thursday on allegations that secret loans were made to his party by wealthy supporters in the run-up to the 2005 British national election.

Labour party treasurer Jack Dromey has launched an inquiry into the loans, which are at the center of claims the government administered honors in return for financial backing.

Fifty-two of the governing Labour Party's 353 lawmakers voted against Blair's bill, which they fear will give the private sector too much influence in schooling.

Blair had urged rebels in the party to back him on the policy and will now faces accusations that his grip on power and control of his party is faltering.

The prime minister is also likely to address violence in Gaza and the West Bank sparked by an Israeli raid on a Palestinian-run prison, which happened after the withdrawal of U.S. and British monitors, reports the AP.


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