Will Lord Ashdown return to the frontline?

Back to the frontline? Lord Ashdown could be given a Cabinet position

Back to the frontline? Lord Ashdown could be given a Cabinet position

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown was last night tipped to make an extraordinary return to frontline politics as a defence adviser to David Cameron.

Tory sources dismissed speculation that Lord Ashdown, 69, would be appointed as Defence Secretary as part of the coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats. That job is expected to go to Tory Liam Fox.

But sources suggested that Lord Ashdown could still be invited to take up a defence role, possibly as a minister, but more likely as an adviser to Mr Cameron, either on security or on Afghanistan.

Lords Ashdown served for four years as the UN High representative-for Bosnia and Herzegovina-where he used sweeping powers to oversee the rebuilding of the war torn country.

He was invited to play a similar role for the UN in Afghanistan, but the move was blocked by Afghan president Karzai.

Lord Ashdown, a former special forces soldier and diplomat, remains a central figure in the Lib Dems, acting as an informal adviser to Nick Clegg. But he has always been thought to be close to Labour and tried to form an alliance with Tony Blair.

Indian-born Lord Ashdown was MP for Yeovil from 1983 to 2001.

He has been married since 1962 - despite the disclosure of an affair he had with his secretary in the late 1980s.

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