Labour Party Conference: Career Prospects - Mandelson 'at ease' after resigning

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PETER MANDELSON raised the prospect of a "life outside politics" yesterday, saying he "felt more at ease with himself" since his resignation.

The former trade and industry secretary also dismissed speculation that he was still influencing the Prime Minister behind the scenes, although he emphasised that they remained "close friends".

"I remain a very strong ally of his. But I am no longer his chief aide. I am no longer a spin-doctor. I am no longer the person fluttering at his beck and call." Mr Mandelson was forced to resign after revelations that he accepted an interest-free loan from Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general.

But Mr Mandelson told BBC's Conference Live programme: "I have not discussed [with Mr Blair] going back. 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." Speaking about his feelings since his resignation, he added: "I feel more comfortable and more at ease with myself ... and that must be strengthening."