Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott yesterday accepted that some in the Labour Party were "disappointed" with him but vowed he would still stay in his job despite the controversy encircling him.
He also confirmed that he wore a cowboy outfit, including a Stetson hat, cowboy boots with spurs and a buckle with the initials JP on it, during a visit to US billionaire Philip Anschutz's Colorado ranch.
Mr Prescott, whose affair with diary secretary Tracey Temple was exposed earlier this year, said he "bitterly" regretted what had happened in his private life.
"I do believe there are people in the Labour Party who have been disappointed with me, of course, I'd be stupid not to recognise that," he said.
"But what they say (is) 'get on with the job, get on with doing what Labour's done and get that case across.'
"Now I still believe that I've got an important contribution to make in that, otherwise I wouldn't stay around.
"And I have, despite all the nonsense in the press. I do want to continue that programme."
Mr Prescott's comments came as fresh questions were raised about why he did not declare the cowboy outfit to Customs on his return from the ranch last year.
The Code of Conduct for Ministers states that gifts received overseas should be declared "on importation" in order for customs officers to advise whether tax or duty should be paid.
The Deputy Prime Minister confirmed he had received an "ordinary white Stetson", a belt and boots from Mr Anschutz.
Asked whether he had seen them, he added: "Of course I've seen them, I wore them - I wore them on the day because I went round the ranch, look-ing at how a ranch works in that sense."
Mr Prescott insisted that the gifts were "properly recorded".
But he said he had received varying advice from civil servants, as recorded by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Sir Philip Mawer.
"If the gifts were given to me as a Minister as they were and properly recorded at the time they were given then I was dealt by the Ministerial rules," he said.
"Why did I then sign 11 months later? Because of a change in the definition which Sir Philip points out - my permanent secretary told me there would be no conflict of interest."
Mr Prescott defended his meetings with Mr Anschutz, but again stressed they had not discussed a possible casino.
"I would have been stupid to have refused to have talked to a man who was involved in part of a process that was bringing £5 billion into that part of London," he said.
He said that the planning decision was taken by the local authority, not by his department.
The Deputy Prime Minister shrugged off claims that he did not have the authority to stand in for Tony Blair over the summer break.
"I've been doing that for this is my tenth year," he said. "Two months of every year, I'm in that kind of charge situation. I've never heard a complaint from you, from anyone else or the press as to how I handle it or how my judgement works. So I say to people, judge me on my record."
Mr Prescott also made a tantalising reference to when Mr Blair might step down.
Defending his own record, he said: "I believe that's the case, that I can still make an important contribution.
"The party has its means by which of making decisions about that and I think that will come very shortly."
When pressed on that point, he said he wanted to see "sufficient time for people to get in the job", and that he favoured a contest for the leadership but backed Chancellor Gordon Brown to win it.
Sir Philip Mawer's report on Friday cleared Mr Prescott of breaching the MPs' code of conduct by failing to declare his stay at Mr Anschutz's ranch. But it urged Mr Blair to introduce an independent route for investigating allegations of breaches of the Ministerial code.
Mr Prescott's office said that his comments about decisions on Mr Blair's position coming "very shortly" were nothing new.
"People should not read anything into this," it said.
"John Prescott is not saying anything new and the position remains exactly as the Prime Minister has set out."