Tony Blair has been advising health secretary Matt Hancock on coronavirus pandemic strategy, it has emerged.
The former Labour prime minister has reportedly privately offered « strategic advice » to the government a number of times during the course of the outbreak.
Topics touched on by the ex-Labour leader are said to include vaccine strategy and mass testing, the Sunday Times newspaper reports.
The secret talks are reportedly part of an attempted « comeback » for the ex-politician, according to a source familiar with his thinking who spoke to the same newspaper.
Asked whether Mr Blair had been advising him, Mr Hancock told Sky News: « I talk to all sorts of people all the time. »
Pressed on the question, he replied: « Well, I’m not going to go into private conversations, I talk to all sorts of people and we take ideas from lots of sources. »
Ahead of Christmas Mr Blair urged the government to spread its Covid-10 vaccination programme more thinly and give people only a single dose instead of the recommended two.
His think-tank has also offered public advice on other issues such as how to make travel restrictions work.
Some suggestions made by Mr Blair seem to have been adopted; the government announced on 31 December that first doses of the coronavirus vaccines would be prioritised.
Mr Blair was prime minister from 1997 to 2007. After leaving office until 2016 he ran a firm called Tony Blair Associates that gave « strategic advice » for a fee, with clients controversially including figures like the dictator of Kazakhstan, and a Saudi Arabian oil company.
In the same year the firm was dissolved, he established the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a policy think-tank.
Mr Blair has regularly weighed in on topics ranging from Brexit, to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. In 2011 he stepped in to defend embattled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, describing him as « immensely courageous and a force for good ».