The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Aides play down illness

London, Nov. 28: Downing Street mounted a determined effort yesterday to play down concerns over Tony Blair’s health after he was seen by doctors twice in 24 hours when he complained of stomach pains.

Officials said the Prime Minister was “perfectly fine and getting on with his job”.

He was given the all-clear at lunchtime and went ahead last night with a planned trip to Newport, South Wales, to launch Labour’s consultation exercise on the challenges facing the nation. As Blair arrived at a Labour Party gala dinner in a Newport hotel, he smiled and said: “I’m fine.”

Earlier, Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, said he had chaired yesterday’s cabinet “with the usual degree of vigour and enthusiasm”.

Blair had met a group of children and TV personalities invited to Downing Street yesterday as part of the Children of Courage awards. Trevor McDonald, the newsreader, said Blair told him he was “in a bit of pain” yesterday.

“He said he had felt a little bit unwell in the Commons. He had stomach pains and said they initially thought he had appendicitis, but it was something much more minor than that. He is fine now.”

Downing Street said the stomach pains were not connected with his hospital treatment last month to correct an irregular heartbeat and did not require further action.

Officials refused to give any more details of the stomach complaint, or what may have caused it, saying that Blair was entitled to privacy when consulting doctors.

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