Tony Blair: I'd like to return as prime minister

Tony Blair Tony Blair stood down as prime minister - and as an MP - five years ago

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has revealed he would like to return to Downing Street, but has acknowledged this is "not likely to happen".

Mr Blair, who won three elections for Labour before leaving office in 2007, told the London Evening Standard he had "learned an immense amount" since.

He added he "didn't want to go" but had done so to avoid a "bloody battle" with supporters of Gordon Brown.

The 59-year-old also urged Labour to pursue "strong, modern" policies.

Since leaving office, Mr Blair has taken on several private-sector jobs, while also serving as a Middle East envoy for the "Quartet", made up of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

He has also set up charitable foundations for faith, sport and Africa.

'Two-party fight'

There has been speculation in recent months that Mr Blair would return to a high-profile role within UK politics and, at the weekend, he told the BBC he would have been happy to stay as prime minister, in which role he came under pressure from supporters of Mr Brown to quit.

Analysis

Could Tony Blair come back?

There is no indication he is seriously thinking of abandoning his highly lucrative globe-trotting lifestyle for a return to the Westminster pressure cooker.

But just supposing he was, would there be anything to stop him?

Prime ministers have been re-elected after losing the top job. Winston Churchill did it in the early 1950s. Labour's Harold Wilson also had two stints at Number 10.

But unlike Mr Blair, who could not wait to leave the green benches of the Commons behind when he stood down as PM, they remained MPs - and party leaders.

Under Labour Party rules, the leader must me a sitting MP, which would mean a by-election.

The ensuing battle - between those who want him back (and they do exist) and those who would rather throw themselves under a bus than contemplate such a prospect - would just about finish the Labour party off.

And then there's the small question of selling the comeback to voters...

Questioned about this by the Evening Standard, he said: "I didn't want to go but I felt that I had to. The only choice would have been to have fought a very bloody battle internally which I thought would damage the country as well as the party."

Asked whether he would accept another term as prime minister if it was offered, he replied: "Yes, sure, but it's not likely to happen is it, so..."

Mr Blair, who was guest-editing the newspaper, suggested he might be better suited for the top job in British politics now than when he was in office.

He said: "I have learned an immense amount in the past five years. One of my regrets is that what I have learned in the last five years would have been so useful to me [as prime minister], because when you see how the world is developing you get a far clearer picture of some of the issues our country is grappling with."

Mr Blair offered some advice for current Labour leader Ed Miliband, saying: "My advice to the Labour Party is to sort ourselves out with a strong, modern policy."

On the 2015 general election, he said: "Frankly you can't tell what will happen, if there will be a coalition or not, but I suspect it will be far more of a two-party fight next time.

"Ed Miliband has made a conscious decision that he is going to keep the Labour Party in the centre, and that is sensible."

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