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Donald Dewar Thursday, 11 May, 2000, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Cook: 'I won't be Dewar successor'
Robin Cook
Mr Cook spoke at a parliamentary awards evening
BBC News Online looks back at how we reported Donald Dewar's heart illness.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has ruled himself out of being Scotland's next first minister.

Speaking at the Scotsman's Parliamentarian of the Year Awards, the MP for Livingston said the next person to hold the position was already sitting in the Scottish Parliament.

From time to time, the Labour politician's name crops up as someone likely to become active in politics north of the border.

But during the ceremony, Mr Cook was at pains to make it clear he had no plans to fight for the job of first minister, a post currently held by Donald Dewar.


I am delightfully happy with being foreign secretary and sitting in Westminster

Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary
Speaking to the audience of MSPs and Scottish Executive ministers, he said he thought it would be an affront to the whole idea of devolution to "parachute a leader in from Westminster" when the time came for Mr Dewar to retire.

He wished his fellow Labour colleague a speedy recovery from his recent heart surgery and assured him he would no be standing for Holyrood.

Mr Cook said it was not that the current MSP for Livingston, Bristow Muldoon, would not make a great foreign secretary - but that he, as the MP for Livingston - did not want to swap places.

'Choking the rumours'

He added: "I understand my good friend Charlie Whelan has been offering my name as a possible successor to Donald Dewar.

"I haven't taken Mr Whelan's advice in the past and I don't want to on this occasion. I find these press stories irritating.

"Let me try once again to the choke rumours.

Donald Dewar
Donald Dewar: Recovering from heart surgery
"I am delightfully happy with being foreign secretary and sitting in Westminster and I will do that for as long as my constituents want me to."

His words were greeted with suspicion by some of those present.

They questioned why he had taken time out from his busy schedule to speak at the Scottish parliamentary award ceremony if he was not nursing any ambitions in that direction.

Since news first emerged that Mr Dewar would be undergoing major heart surgery, speculation has been rife about his political future and a possible successor.

It is believed highly unlikely the 62-year-old will be first minister after the next Scottish Parliament elections.

Mr Dewar is currently recovering from a four-hour operation to replace a leaking heart valve and he could be off work for up to three months.

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11 May 00 | Scotland
30 Apr 00 | Scotland
27 Apr 00 | Scotland
26 Apr 00 | Scotland
06 May 00 | Scotland
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