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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK

UK Politics

Mandelson: I let Blair down

Peter Mandelson: "I let the prime minister down"

Former Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson has given a frank interview to the BBC about the events surrounding his resignation.

Speaking on BBC Two's Conference Live programme, he admitted he believed he had failed Prime Minister Tony Blair when the details of his secret home loan were revealed.

Mr Mandelson said: "I felt I had let him down.

"I felt I had let down my officials at the DTI and I still don't feel comfortable about it, but at the same time with the media frenzy I thought the best thing I could do for the party and the government was resign immediately."

He confirmed previous statements suggesting the fall-out from the affair has dominated his life in recent months.

"In all the other things I have been doing since I have been doing a repair job," he said.

"I have been rebuilding my life, repairing it putting my affairs in order. I think those rather searing experiences, those terrible events they are behind me and I'm very glad about that."

The former minister said he remained a close friend of Mr Blair's, but their relationship had changed.

"I remain a very strong ally of his, but I am no longer his chief aide. I'm no longer the spin doctor.

"I'm no longer the person fluttering around at his beck and call."

Mr Mandelson said he did not regard his return to government - a source of fevered speculation in the media - as "inevitable".

"I haven't discussed [with the prime minister] going back and I don't regard it to be inevitable and I certainly see no signs of any early or immediate return to the Cabinet but nor am I dwelling on it.

"I have a life outside politics as I discovered in the last year.

"I feel more comfortable and more at ease with myself than I did before and that must be strengthening."

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