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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 07:03 GMT
Blair hints at life after Number 10
Tony Blair
Mr Blair: already dreaming of a new career?
Prime Minister Tony Blair has made it clear he is already thinking about an alternative career, after he has left Number 10.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Blair said it was "an absolute privilege to be doing this job" and he had no immediate plans to quit.


(It would) be extremely foolish of me to share it with you, just quite at this moment

Mr Blair on his future plans
But when it was suggested that, as a relatively young man, he must have given some thought to what he will do next, he said "you are probably right."

But, he added, it would be "extremely foolish of me to share it with you, just quite at this moment."

Asked to expand, the prime minister laughed and said: "I haven't said more than I should have done - but I am not saying any more than I have said."

'Pact' with Cherie

Mr Blair has always refused to discuss when he might stand down as Labour leader, despite media speculation about a supposed "deal" with Chancellor Gordon Brown.

John Major
Mr Major: a passion for cricket
According to a TV documentary last year, Mr Blair has also made a pact with his wife Cherie to stand down after two terms, to allow Mrs Blair to pursue her flourishing legal career.

The claim was made in Channel 4's The Real Cherie Blair, by Linda McDougall, wife of Labour MP Austin Mitchell, who wrote an accompanying biography of Mrs Blair.

Surprise

The BBC's political editor Andrew Marr said Mr Blair's remarks were an "interesting slip".


My own guess is that he will fight the next election, win it, and then go shortly afterwards

Andrew Marr, the BBC's Political Editor
"He is 48, he could go on for a very long time, if the voters allow him to.

"I think his preference is to surprise us. I think he would like to leave this job when he is on an up, when he can find a suitable up, and go off and do something entirely different.

"He was very impressed when Paddy Ashdown left the Lib Dems unexpectedly. He would quite like to do the same.

"My own guess is that he will fight the next election, win it, and then go shortly afterwards," he told BBC One's News at Ten O'Clock

President of Europe

In recent months, Mr Blair's political opponents have accused him of plotting to become the first "President of Europe" or, in the light of his apparent fondness for shuttle diplomacy, Secretary General of the United Nations.

Tony Blair
It might be too late for a career in football
Given his profile on the world stage, Mr Blair would be unlikely to return to his former career as a barrister specializing in employment law.

A return to the backbenches would seem equally unlikely, although most former prime ministers have tended to remain within the political arena.

Life peerages

Margaret Thatcher continues to exert her influence in the House of Lords.

James Callaghan, who resigned as Labour leader in 1979, remained in the Commons until 1987 before being made a life peer.

Harold Wilson, retained his seat in the Commons until 1983, when he became a life peer.

Edward Heath retired from the Commons at the last election, as its oldest member.

Exception to the rule

The only exception to the rule in recent years has been Mr Blair's immediate predecessor, John Major, who left the Commons at the last election.

Apart from directorships and lecturing engagements, Mr Major has increasingly dedicated his time to his favourite pastime, cricket, becoming president of Surrey County Cricket Club at The Oval in April 2000.

See also:

02 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Blair-Brown 'pact' denied
03 Dec 01 | UK Politics
Labour 'pact' back in spotlight
21 Jun 00 | Americas
After the White House
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