LONDON -- Tony Blair is "100 percent recovered" from an irregular heartbeat, his office said yesterday, and analysts suggested that the prime minister was unlikely to suffer any serious political fallout from the health scare.
A tabloid headline asked, "Is This the End of Blair?" But he was back at work despite doctors' advice to rest for 24 hours after receiving an electric jolt Sunday to return his heart rhythm to normal.
His spokesman said that the 50-year-old prime minister was not at "full throttle" yesterday, but Blair planned to return to his normal, frenetic schedule today.
Blair canceled a scheduled speech in the House of Commons, delegating the task to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, but he held meetings in his office during the day, said the spokesman, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Doctors say that the briefly rapid and irregular heart beat was not a serious ailment and did not raise any question about Blair's fitness to continue in his grueling job.
Blair has suffered through his toughest year as prime minister, facing intense opposition, including from some in his own Labor Party, to his support for the US-led war in Iraq. The failure of coalition forces to find evidence supporting Blair's prewar contention that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction has put the prime minister in an even tougher political spot, and his popularity has slumped in recent polls.
Blair, who recently declared his intention to lead the party through the next national election, seemed eager to demonstrate his vitality. His spokesman said Blair would hold his usual meeting with Queen Elizabeth II today, answer questions in the House of Commons tomorrow, conduct a press conference Thursday, and then head off for an overnight visit elsewhere in Britain. The spokesman said Blair was "fit, fine, in good spirits, and 100 percent recovered." He added that Blair would have a medical checkup within two weeks.
George Jones, a retired London School of Economics government professor, said the episode could worsen Blair's political problems. "He's already facing difficulties with his party, and this happening to him will encourage plotters and disruption," Jones said. But he added that Blair's skill at getting votes was so valuable to the party that the rebels would be wary of trying to topple him.
But Anthony Seldon, a political historian at Brighton College, said the hard-driving prime minister was unlikely to be slowed.
"He is very clear that he wants to carry on," Seldon said. "Barring the doctors telling him that he's got to lighten up, it's going to have no effect at all."