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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 July 2006, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Prescott defiant over criticism
John Prescott
John Prescott expects a decision on his future "very shortly"

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has insisted that he still has a major role to play in the government.

But he hinted he expects the Labour Party to take a decision "very shortly" about his and Tony Blair's future.

And Mr Prescott predicted that there would be a "timetable decided by Tony and the party".

After his rebuke by the Commons standards committee for not declaring visits to a US tycoon's ranch, he said there had been no "undue influence".

I still believe that I've got an important contribution to make
John Prescott

His remarks about the future leadership, made on BBC One's Sunday AM programme, seem to be at odds with other members of the Labour hierarchy.

The party chairman, Hazel Blears, labelled the timetable "fabled" and "mythical" last month, and Mr Blair himself has repeatedly refused to set a date for his departure.

Bitter regrets

Mr Prescott accepted that many Labour supporters were "disappointed" with him following scandals in his private life.

He said he regretted "bitterly" an affair he had with his diary secretary.

But he still wanted to stay in his job, saying: "I still believe that I've got an important contribution to make in that, otherwise I wouldn't stay around."

Mr Prescott's political career has also come under scrutiny recently after it emerged he had accepted gifts and stayed in the ranch of US tycoon Philip Anschutz.

Mr Anschutz is bidding for a licence to build the UK's first and only super-casino at the Millennium Dome - a project which Mr Prescott's department was involved with.

In his Sunday AM interview, Mr Prescott confirmed that he wore a cowboy outfit, including a Stetson hat, cowboy boots with spurs and a buckle with the initials JP on it, during a visit to Mr Anschutz's Colorado ranch.

But he robustly denied that he was subject to any undue influence.

He said he had not been directly involved in decisions about the Dome.

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