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Unscheduled Summer Holiday Is Proposed

June 20, 2002

A national holiday if England gets to the World Cup final? Let's first get past Brazil in the quarterfinals and then we'll see, says Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Former sports minister Tony Banks urged Blair on Wednesday to delare a public holiday on Monday, July 1, the day after the World Cup final, if England gets that far.

Banks, a Labor Party parliamentarian, said it would allow fans to celebrate or drown their sorrows without having to worry about getting up for work.

Blair treated Banks' request with caution during prime minister's question time in the House of Commons.

"I would like to thank you for your very interesting submission, which I will consider carefully," he said. "Let us just get over the hurdle of beating Brazil on Friday, all right?"

Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Andrew was flying to Japan to support England in its clash with Brazil.

The prince, who is president of England's Football Assn., was not originally scheduled to be at the match.

"He wanted to be there because England are doing so well," a Buckingham Palace spokesman said, on customary condition of anonymity.

Andrew will travel on a scheduled flight to Tokyo today.

Compiled by Jim Barrero

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