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Blair rejects pressure to resign

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• British Prime Minister Tony Blair rejects calls to resign amid corruption probe
• "You'll have to put up with me for a bit longer," Blair says in radio interview
• Blair was quizzed by police for 2nd time over so-called cash-for-honors affair
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has refused to step down before police finish a political corruption probe into his party, despite fears the investigation is damaging his party.

"You'll have to put up with me for a bit longer," Blair said in a BBC Radio interview broadcast Friday.

Blair's comments came after it was revealed police questioned him last week in connection with allegations that his ruling Labour Party promised honors -- including seats in the upper House of Lords and knighthoods -- in return for loans to help a 2005 general election campaign.

Details of the questioning emerged on Thursday after a police blackout was lifted. (Full story)

Blair has said he will step down this year after a decade in office. He is expected to hand over power to finance minister Gordon Brown in July.

In Friday's radio interview, Blair said it would be "particularly wrong" for him to step down before the cash-for-honors inquiry had run its course, despite fears it was damaging his government.

The prime minister, who has also come under heavy criticism for his support of military action in Iraq, brushed off claims that voters now saw him as fundamentally dishonest.

"I'm not going to beg for my character in front of anyone. I am not going to get into the situation where I am pleading for my integrity, not even in front of the British people."

Downing Street has so far refused to comment on the content of Blair's police interview, which came a few days after the January 19 arrest of his close aide, Ruth Turner, on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, and shortly before this week's arrest of his chief fundraiser, Michael Levy.

Downing Street said it was not known whether Blair would be questioned again, saying that was "a matter entirely for police."

When first questioned in December, Blair became the first serving British leader to be questioned by police in a criminal investigation.

Tony Blair says he will not step down while in police inquiry in in progress.



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