Moneybags Blair claimed £1m in British taxpayers’ money over last decade
A freedom of information tribunal last month, as first reported by The Sunday Times, revealed that Tony Blair has received £1,077,888 ($1.4m) over the last 10 years. The release of the information also showed former PMs John Major, Gordon Brown and David Cameron all claiming the allowance.
All past prime ministers since Major, who established the arrangement in 1991, have been entitled to claim the public duty cost allowance (PDCA) of up to £115,000 a year, to cover costs of ongoing public arrangements when they step down from office.
The most recent figures show that in period 2016-17, Blair and Major both claimed the maximum possible of £115,000, while Brown claimed £114,838 and Cameron £50,227.
Tony Blair was said to be worth £60m in 2015. His property empire was worth an estimated £27m in 2016 and he reportedly earns up to £229,000 ($300,000) per speech as part of his public speaking arrangement. It begs the question, does an individual who has amassed such huge wealth really need taxpayers’ money?
According to The Independent, officials at the Cabinet Office have bullishly tried to prevent any receipts and evidence for the PDCA from coming out into the public domain. Civil servants have insisted the total amount each politician had claimed each year should be published, but the details of what each former PM claimed for, should not be made known.
The hearing on October 22 was told that the Cabinet Office, which runs the allowance scheme, did hold evidence submitted by the other former premiers; Blair's supporting evidence was provided for inspection but not retained by the Cabinet Office.
A spokesman for Blair said: “Tony Blair receives what is given to former prime ministers in exactly the same way as his predecessors, including reimbursement for costs associated with his former role.”
Sharon Carter, head of the propriety and ethics team at the Cabinet Office, told the hearing in a witness statement: “There has been no expectation that the information provided in support of the claims for the PDCA would be made public.”
“The total amounts claimed have been published for some years and the expectation of the former prime ministers was that this was an appropriate level of transparency.”
After stepping down as prime minister in 2007, Blair took on several roles, including his highly criticized job as Middle East envoy for the UN, which he held for eight years. He also formed Tony Blair Associates to give “strategic advice” to a myriad of clients, which included governments in Kuwait, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, as well as oil companies.
More recently, critics have urged him to cut ties with the Saudi regime, in light of the ongoing war in Yemen that has seen thousands of civilians die, and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Blair’s Institute for Global Change reportedly signed a deal worth £9 million ($11.6 million) with the Saudi government earlier this year, in order to “support the change program” in the country.
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