BACKSEAT drivers. No-one likes them, but political leaders are particularly allergic to the breed. What could be worse than a predecessor telling you often and loudly where you are going wrong?

Margaret Thatcher reckoned she had been a “very good backseat driver” after John Major took her perch. He saw it differently, calling her interventions “intolerable”.

The Thatcher-Major tussle was something of an exception, with most past leaders taking care not to criticise from the sidelines. Yet the rules, as well as being unwritten, are fluid. Mr Major himself threatened to take Boris Johnson to court for proroguing parliament.

Tony Blair has fast become the past premier most likely to pop up with “helpful” advice, as he showed on Sky News’s Ridge on Sunday.

With the BBC Sunday programmes now on their summer hols, presenter Sophy Ridge made the most of being the only show in town, breezing straight in on the day’s big story – the sudden imposition of a fortnight’s quarantine for holidaymakers returning from Spain. Among those caught out by the rule change was England’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.

Jon Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, called the Government’s performance “shambolic”.

"There are holidaymakers in Spain at the moment confused and distressed, there are people about to go on holiday to Spain and the islands like Tenerife who are confused, and they don't know whether their employers will allow them to take two weeks' quarantine. The Government is just saying, 'We hope that employers co-operate'. I hope I win the lottery on Saturday but that doesn't mean it is going to happen.”

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, was a hasty addition to the line-up. On a typical Sunday, Ridge has to make do with grabbing pavement interviews with Ministers when they are on their way to The Andrew Marr Show. This time, Mr Raab was live in the studio, at the requisite two metre social distance.

No worker following quarantine guidance should be penalised by employers, he said, including by being put onto sick pay.

"If someone is following the law in relation to quarantine and self-isolating the way they should, they can't have penalties taken against them."

As for his ministerial colleague Mr Shapps being caught on the hop, the Foreign Secretary said it showed the risks for everyone.

Mr Raab could not guarantee other countries would follow Spain and be taken off the “safe list”.

"All we can say is we've got this Joint Biosecurity Centre, we monitor the risk in real time, we take decisive swift action and so there is an element of uncertainty this summer if people go abroad.” He will be staying at home over the recess.

Tony Blair had the sun-smooched visage of the international globetrotter. Either that or he has been spending a lot of time in one of his back gardens. The latter seems unlikely given how busy he seems to be with the modestly titled Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Its latest position paper, Learning to Live Alongside Covid-19, was ostensibly the reason for his latest appearance.

It was a wide-ranging interview covering everything from Russia and China to Scottish independence. You can read what he had to say in full elsewhere in the paper, but in summary: Boris Johnson was useless (not the man to save the Union); Scottish Labour had been useless (gone too far to left, played footsie with nationalist sentiment); and current Labour leader Keir Starmer was proving useful (“He’s made the Labour Party competitive again.”) It was fairly predictable stuff for the former Prime Minister, except for the end when Ridge asked why he could not seem to wrench himself away from politics. Isn’t it time to take a break, she wondered, go round the golf course or to the shepherd’s hut? David Cameron famously opted for the latter, spending a cool £25,000 on one for his Cotswolds garden.

Mr Blair seemed momentarily taken aback. “It’s not something I want to do. A lot of people might think that’s exactly what he should do, stop talking about things. But I care about the country, I think we are at a huge moment of change in the world.”

Addressing the elephant/backseat passenger in the room, he went on: “I’ve tried to do something that previous prime ministers have not done, but in the future I predict that many more will try and do because you leave office when you’ve still got a lot of years of active working life.

“I always say to people if you don’t want to listen to me it’s a free world, don’t bother.

"But I’m not going to be playing rounds of golf or sitting twiddling my thumbs. That’s not going to happen ever.”

One was reminded of what Mrs Thatcher said after the 1987 election, that she hoped to “go on and on”.

Keir Starmer will be delighted.