Prime Minister Gordon Brown was facing questions Tuesday on the future of British forces in Iraq, as he held a monthly news conference the day after troops completed a withdrawal from their last base inside Iraq's southern city of Basra.
Brown, who has refused to set a timetable for any significant drawdown of Britain's 5,500 soldiers, faced reporters at his Downing Street office for the first time since Parliament's summer break.
In the past weeks, a series of polls showed Brown ahead of his chief rival in the opposition Conservative party, sparking rumors the British leader was poised to call a national election to capitalize on his popularity.
But a latest survey, published in the Times of London on Tuesday, shows Brown's lead slipping - putting his Labour party only one percentage point ahead of the Conservatives - 37 percent to 36 percent.
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