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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Patten to stand down
Chris Patten has confirmed he is to stand down after just one term as a European Commissioner, following reports that he is counting the hours until the end of his "boring" Brussels job.
According to the Daily Telegraph newspaper Mr Patten, the European Commissioner for External Affairs, found one commission meeting so dull that he stopped listening and worked out how many hours he had left to live if he were to die at 75.
But the former Hong Kong governor dismissed the report, saying the remarks were taken out of context and demonstrated the "perils of having a sense of humour" in public life.
He insisted his job was actually one of the most "interesting" he could do, but said he would only serve one term in office.
"I am 56 now, I will be over 60 when this job is over and there will probably only be one British commissioner after the IGC [inter-governmental conference] this year.
"It seems to me perfectly sensible to decide when you are over 60 there are other things to do in life," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Mr Patten is reported to have been engaged in a drawn out battle while in Brussels with former Nato Secretary General Javier Solana, who is in charge of Europe's common foreign and security policy.
According to the Telegraph, Mr Patten started working out how many hours he had left to live if he made it to 75 during Wednesday's meeting with the commission. The answer was 175,200.