Blair’s Middle East envoy role costs Britain 400,000 poundsNovember 14th, 2007 - 2:43 pm ICT by admin
London, Nov.14 (ANI): Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s role as Middle East envoy to the Quartet is costing British taxpayers 400,000 pounds.
According to the Daily Mail, this money helps fund the ex-Prime Minister’s staff and office in Jerusalem. It was thought the cost to Britain would be minimal because he is employed by the Quartet, an international coalition of the UN, the EU, the U.S. and Russia. But the UK is paying a significant share of the total cost of at least two million pounds.
Four British diplomats have also been drafted in to work for Blair in his peace process role.
Critics questioned why taxpayers are funding such a large amount when Blair does not report to Parliament, but directly to the Quartet.
Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott said: “British taxpayers should only pay their fair share of Blair.”
Former Tory Minister Lord Trefgarne, who demanded the figures in a Parliamentary question, said the expenses are “pretty substantial”.
Lords Minister Baroness Royall of Blaisdon told peers Blair received no salary in his role as quartet representative - but he is entitled to claim for travel and other expenses.
Last week, Blair was criticised for charging 240,000 pounds for a “boring” speech in the Chinese industrial city of Dongguan.
According to newspaper commentators, the speech was not interesting. One commentator said that Blair trotted out the same platitudes that could be heard from local officials.
Blair’s audience comprised 600 businessmen and officials, and 100 clients of his hosts, Guangdong Guangda Group, a local real estate company.
In a speech, the Chinese title of which translates as “From Greatness to Brilliance”, Blair described his personal connections with the country - his sister-in-law is Chinese - while he revealed that his seven-year-old son, Leo, was studying Mandarin at school.
The China Youth Daily, which is published by the Communist Youth League but is one of the country’s more progressive papers, said the speech was full of pleasantries and clich
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