Home Secretary John Reid has rejected any media suggestion he is at war with, or has surrendered to, Gordon Brown.
He told the BBC that actually he and Mr Brown, favourite to succeed Tony Blair, were working together on the "people's priorities" for the future.
Mr Reid, widely seen as the most likely heavyweight challenger to Mr Brown for the job, had been reported to have decided not to take on the chancellor.
But Mr Reid said he would not comment on that until there was a vacancy.
Asked how he gets on with Mr Brown, Mr Reid told BBC One's Sunday AM: "The media seem to think there are only two states for politicians.
"One is for us to be at war, and the other one is for complete capitulation and surrender by one to the other.
"Actually there is a much more normal state, that's people working together doing the job we are paid for and expected to do by the people of this country."
He said he and Mr Brown and other ministers were concentrating on doing their ministerial jobs and should talk about the "people's priorities" for the next decade rather than the priorities for "our future or our self advance".
During the interview, Mr Reid said that security was at the heart of people's priorities, and said the Queen's Speech later this month would include a range of measures to tackle the issues.
These would include measures "to counter terrorism better, measures to tackle organised crime, measures to tackle anti-social behaviour, and measures to tackle the biggest new phenomena in the world in the last 10 years which is mass migration on a massive scale", he said.
There have long been suggestions that one of the senior Blairite ministers in Cabinet might decide to stand against Mr Brown when Mr Blair steps down.
But after the bout of public in-fighting in the run up to the Labour conference last month, it has been reported that fences have been mended and Mr Brown might not after all face a Cabinet level challenge.
Mr Reid said what had happened since the conference season was Labour had realised it had to unite to counter the threat from David Cameron's Conservatives.
These "future challenges" could only be met "through a partnership", he added.
The only declared challenger at the moment is the backbencher John McDonnell, and he will need to get 44 MPs backing his nomination to be able to go forward.
Meanwhile Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, who has backed Mr Brown as the next leader and wants to be deputy, warned Labour had "lost a bit of middle Britain" and could lose the next election, if it did not reconnect with voters.
He told GMTV's Sunday programme: "People have become disenchanted with us for a variety of reasons.
"But their natural home is with the Labour Party because their alternative is a Conservative government, and we need to win back their respect and their support, and I think under a renewed leadership with Gordon Brown... I think we can do that."
Other candidates for the deputy leadership so far include Hilary Benn, John Cruddas, Alan Johnson and Harriet Harman.