Highlights of an interview with the civil service newspaper, Whitehall and Westminster World:

How did Tory supporters react?  "Their reaction was appalling.  Their behaviour was appalling. Not in my constituency but nationally. They were just like children. To the point where I asked myself whether it was worth carrying on. It was as if I’d assassinated the pope or something.  A lot of people really were very difficult – very abusive to my wife for example. On those that would reason with me, I asked them if they would oppose cross party consensus on Northern Ireland and they said ‘No, of course not.’ Why? ‘Because that was a Tory idea.’ I was just flabbergasted with their logic."

Any regrets?  "I don’t regret it at all. I think it has probably, how can I put it, pushed me even further to the periphery of the Tory Party but that’s not important. I’m not in politics to be a member of the Conservative Party first and foremost – I’m in politics to serve my country and I’m very happy to do that."

On tackling Gordon Brown: "You can either say he is the biggest shyster in modern political history and will do anything for self and political party advantage, or you can say he is the prime minister of this country who is trying to do the best possible job he can do.  The trouble is, if you’re a professional politician, well, what do you say? You say he is a shyster. I don’t know what the truth is and frankly it doesn’t interest me very much. I don’t care about his motives – the result should be a safer country."

On Lord West: "I’m impressed with the fact that he said ‘I haven’t a political bone in my body. I’m not here to do politics – I’m here to protect the country’. I know he has taken the Labour whip but big deal. It’s not about politics it’s about defending the country so yes I was impressed with him."

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