Britain's Brown jokes on life after Downing Street

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Gordon Brown on Thursday made his first public appearance since quitting as Britain's prime minister -- and had time for a joke at his own expense.

Brown, who ended 13 years in high office this week -- the last three as premier -- appeared at the Adam Smith College in his home town of Kirkcaldy, north of Edinburgh, where he is chancellor.

After a day off at his North Queensferry home, a smiling Brown, in suit and tie and accompanied by his wife Sarah, was open about his notoriously stiff public demeanour.

"I was actually thinking of coming in today and applying for the course on communication skills," Brown told students. "Then I thought I might do public relations, then maybe media management, drama and performance.

"But I'm actually here to talk about how this college can expand in the future," he said, adding: "I may have given up one job but the job that I love in politics is to be your member of parliament."

Brown, whose dour public demeanour contrasted with his predecessor Tony Blair's more relaxed, media-friendly style, also suffered a public relations disaster during the election when he left a live television microphone on while describing a widowed pension he had just met as "bigoted."

Despite standing down as premier, the former Edinburgh University rector will continue as the member of parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

He has previously indicated his post-office interests could include charity work and education. But speculation is high about how long the workaholic ex-prime minister will be content to stay as a simple MP.

While he appears unlikely to follow in Blair's footsteps on the lecture circuit, an international statesman role, such as Blair's Middle East peace envoy job, could prove tempting.

A job such as leading the International Monetary Fund might attract Brown, who has made many impassioned speeches about restructuring the world's financial architecture.

Whatever he does, Brown insists his family role will remain central -- as demonstrated by the touching pictures of him leaving Downing Street with his young sons John and Fraser.

"We wanted to leave Downing Street as a family. That was very important," he told the Fife Free Press local newspaper Thursday, in his first post-office interview.

© 2010 AFP

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