On Friday May 4, or maybe the next Monday, Mr Blair would trigger a contest by resigning as Labour leader. The resignation would not take effect until the completion of the election for the deputy’s post even if the leadership is not contested. This would all take about six weeks. This period would cover both the G8 summit in Germany, which is being held earlier than usual on June 6 to 8, and the EU summit on June 21 to 22.
Mr Blair is keen to go to both events, not least because they will be the first to be attended by the new French president. The EU summit, marking the 50th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome, will discuss a new strategy for the union, despite splits about how to replace the rejected constitution.
On this timetable, Mr Blair would return from the EU summit and resign formally in time for Mr Brown to have about four weeks to form his new government and set out his new approach before the start of the long parliamentary recess in late July.
But if, as is a strong probability, Mr Brown is uncontested in the leadership stakes, what is he expected to do during this six week period between the announcement and the end of the deputy leadership contest? Despite being Prime Minister-designate, does he sit and twiddle his thumbs in No 11, while Mr Blair parades his stuff at the G8 and EU summits? What is the point of Mr Blair attending these summits, if he is to retire days later? Would the other G8/EU leaders rather talk to a dead man walking than to the man who will have to deliver on whatever agreements are reached? For the sake of Mr Blair's vanity?
I would suggest that Mr Blair has to be either well out of the way before the summits - which implies a resignation by April at the latest - or he has to hang on until the end of June before resigning, which implies Mr Brown might have to wait until August or September before taking over.