Home Secretary John Reid has said he has "no personal ambition to attain any other high office" when asked if he wanted to succeed Tony Blair.
Mr Reid: Can take it or leave it
Mr Reid, who is tipped by some to be a Blairite rival to Gordon Brown, told a police conference that he could "take it or leave it" when it came to jobs.
He said his "simple view" was that you should "enjoy what you are doing... rather than be burned up by ambition".
"As my mother used to say if it's for you it will not go by you."
It was because of this attitude that he had not said anything over the past two weeks amid the Labour leadership flurry leading up to, and following, Tony Blair's announcement that he would stand down as PM by September next year.
Mr Reid told the Police Superintendents conference, near Chester, he preferred to concentrate on his job at a time when there were terror threats to the UK and British soldiers in action in places such as Afghanistan.
His comments were prompted when a questioner asked him if his next job would be in Number 10 Downing Street.
After jokingly replying "do you mean making the tea for Gordon?" he added: "I've been very privileged in the number of posts I've had, and I have no personal ambition, seriously, no personal ambition to attain any other high office.
"I've been lucky all my life and for the past 10 or 15 years I've taken a very simple view and that is: better to look back and enjoy the reflection of what you have done and what you are doing than be burned up by ambition for the next position, because you know in any job if you're like that I believe you skew yourself and my greatest freedom actually is that I can take it or leave it.
"So as my mother used to say if it's for you it will not go by you and, I'm quite content to let things go like that and I'm quite content to get on with being secretary of state - that's why I've said nothing for the past two and a half weeks."
In what could be seen as a swipe at colleagues who have publicly declared their leadership intentions, Mr Reid said: "It's quite simple, everybody else who's been putting in their tuppence worth and they're entitled to do it... I can only tell you my personal point of view.
"And that is when we're facing the biggest terrorist threat we've been facing in 50 years... when young men and women are fighting and dying in several theatres of war for this country - all of them putting the public interest first - then I shall be spending all of my time putting the public interest first as well."
Mr Reid is seen, along with Alan Johnson, as the most likely Blairite challenger from within the Cabinet to Gordon Brown.
But the chancellor remains the overwhelming favourite to succeed Tony Blair as leader when he steps down. A move he has said he will make before next September's labour Party conference.