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EDITIONS
Sunday, 25 February, 2001, 16:54 GMT
Mandelson: 'I won't return to cabinet'
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson
Ex-minister believes Hammond inquiry will clear him
Peter Mandelson has ruled out any return to government whatever the outcome of the inquiry into the Hinduja passport affair.

But he told his constituency Labour party in Hartlepool that he wanted to serve another term as an MP and would support Prime Minister Tony Blair from the back benches.


For personal reasons which I hope you will understand, I am not looking for a return to government

Peter Mandelson
His comments came as Sunday newspapers suggested that Sir Anthony Hammond's inquiry into the Hinduja affair would criticise Mr Mandelson for making inconsistent statements - but would stop short of accusing him of lying.

Mr Mandelson, who resigned as Northern Ireland secretary over the affair, told supporters he was confident the inquiry would show he had done nothing wrong.

Storm

"I have weathered every storm and I will do so again," said Mr Mandelson.

"But whatever the outcome, for personal reasons which I hope you will understand, I am not looking for a return to government.

"I want to be a parliamentarian rather than a minister, a good constituency MP and someone who continues to serve the country from that base and no other."

Sir Anthony Hammond
Sir Anthony Hammond's report goes to No.10 this week
The comments appeared designed to end speculation that he would seek a return to the cabinet, or an appointment to the European Commission, if cleared by Sir Anthony when his report is published next month.

Mr Mandelson said: "I will be the candidate for the Hartlepool constituency Labour Party at the next general election.

"I am going to be re-elected and serve this town for the next parliamentary term."

Praise

Stressing his support for the Labour leadership, Mr Mandelson praised his party's record in government and backed Mr Blair's promises of massive investment in health and education.

He voiced his support for the campaign to "wage war on persistent offenders" and echoed the prime minister's warnings that the Conservatives were hoping to win seats by fostering cynicism and apathy.

And, in a statement of continued support for his former cabinet colleagues, he insisted: "The government is making the difference."

BBC News Online's special report on the passport for favours affair

Key stories

Inquiry report

Analysis

The players

VIDEO
See also:

19 Feb 01 | N Ireland
14 Feb 01 | South Asia
11 Feb 01 | N Ireland
09 Feb 01 | UK Politics
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