LONDON – Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) said Wednesday he wants to stay in office for a third term — which he says will be his last — to carry forward his domestic and international policies.
Blair's governing Labour Party (search), which has held a steady lead in opinion polls, is widely expected to win national elections on Thursday. Analysts say that the scale of a Labour victory will influence when Blair decides to step down.
Blair, however, dismissed suggestions of an early handover to his successor.
"I actually believe I too have something to contribute to this," he told British Broadcasting Corp. (search) radio. "And when I look at the reform program we have in the health service, in schools, I want to take that forward.
"Even if you look at the international agenda, with Africa and climate change, I'm passionate about these things, there's things I want to do," the prime minister added.
Blair has previously said he wants to serve a full third term in office, if re-elected, but won't stand for a fourth term. Many observers believe Treasury chief Gordon Brown covets the premiership and has struck a deal with Blair that would allow him to take over at some point.
Blair's decision to send British troops into Iraq has angered many voters, and the issue has dogged Labour's election campaign.
Blair's Cabinet, including Brown, supported the U.S.-led invasion. But the prime minister's friendship with American President George W. Bush (search) and passionate advocacy of military action to remove Saddam Hussein means he has been more closely associated with the decision than other Labour figures.
On Tuesday, the families of British troops killed in Iraq marched on Blair's office, demanding a public inquiry into the legality of the war. The protest came as the mother of a British soldier who died in Iraq on Monday blamed the prime minister for her son's death.
Blair ruled out a public probe into the Iraq conflict.
"We have had inquiry after inquiry," Blair told Channel 4 television Tuesday. "I most certainly do say we do not need to go back over this ground again and again."
Earlier, challenged on the campaign stump by a voter angry over the Iraq war, Blair said: "In the end, you have got to try to do as prime minister what you think is right for the country, and some of those decisions are very, very difficult."
"I think what you have got to ask yourself in the end is ... what is going to determine the future of this country, and I believe it is the economy, the health service and schools and law and order."
Ann Wakefield, whose son Anthony, 24, was killed Monday by a roadside bomb in the southern Iraqi city of Amarah, said she blamed Blair for his death.
"I felt Tony Blair lied to us and only went to war to cement his place in history," she said.
Wakefield's death brings the total number of British troops killed in Iraq to 87.