Page last updated at 08:42 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Lord Mandelson 'wanted EU foreign job'

Lord Mandelson
Lord Mandelson is a previous EU commissioner

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has confirmed he had wanted to become the EU's first "foreign secretary".

The High Representative for External Affairs post went to Lady Ashton.

Lord Mandelson denied he was blocked from the job by President Sarkozy - telling the BBC he never got close enough to getting the job to be vetoed.

He told Radio 4's Today he was committed to the government but "in other circumstances I would have liked to have done that job".

He added that "it combines my interests in Europe and foreign affairs".

Asked about reports that he had wanted the UK foreign secretary job if he could not get the EU post, he said: "No. Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers."

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

"But the point is I'm a member of this government and I'm committed to its success and its re-election and that's why I'm remaining a member of it."

Asked if he would nonetheless have been happy to go if he had had a chance of that job Lord Mandelson said: "Well the circumstances didn't arise."

He then denied President Sarkozy - with whom he had well publicised differences last year - had blocked him from the job, adding: "Nobody blocked me, I'm afraid we didn't get to that happy stage."

His departure would have been a significant blow for Mr Brown and taken as a sign that senior Labour figures had given up on the next election.



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