Britain's Blair pressured over high-paid consultancies

20th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

A British lawmaker has launched a campaign to force former prime minister Tony Blair to reveal the sources of his income after reports of the former leader working for Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridge tabled a parliamentary motion which appeared on the House of Commons website on Tuesday, arguing that rules that apply to current lawmakers should also hold for former prime ministers.

"Tony Blair has embarked on a career of personal enrichment and has blurred the lines between his public and private interests," the MP for North West Leicestershire told The Sunday Times earlier.

"No other former prime minister has gone to work for other sovereign states. Mr Blair is still in public life, but is not bound by its principles, and that needs to be changed," he said.

The motion says that Blair remains "in part, a public servant" even though he is not in parliament but that his conduct since leaving office is "in breach of the code of ethics... to regulate public life".

Blair has taken on high-paid consultancies and has been criticised for his work for authoritarian governments including Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan which have been widely reported in the British press.

Motions like the one tabled by Bridge are largely symbolic and very rarely lead to government action.

The motion calls for a debate on the activities of the former leader of the Labour Party, who was prime minister from 1997 and 2007, during which he led Britain into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It also demands legislation to restrict the ability of former prime ministers to work for foreign nations "in the interest of national security and protecting the reputation of the United Kingdom".

His firm Tony Blair Associates is reported to receive £7 million pounds (9.2 million euros, $10.6 million) a year for advising Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Blair has also been criticised for aiding the government of Azerbaijan through his work for a BP-led consortium seeking to build a gas pipeline from Italy to Azerbaijan.

According to a report by The Sunday Times, Blair's company held a confidential contract with Saudi Arabian oil firm PetroSaudi under which it would be paid two percent for any deals it helped set up.

The former British leader has also set up a foundation to foster inter-faith dialogue and an African governance charity working in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal.

© 2015 AFP

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