Baroness Ashton is to be paid £400,000 to do nothing once she leaves her European Union job next year.
The Labour peer will be paid £133,500 a year until the end of 2017 as part of her terms of employment as a senior EU official, a European Commission spokesman confirmed. She will also be able to pick up a £300-a-day attendance allowance from the House of Lords.
The European payment is a “transitional allowance” and will be paid at a lower rate of tax than the standard British rates. It is intended to compensate senior officials such as Baroness Ashton, the High Representative of Foreign Affairs, for restrictions they face in the months leaving office – in the first 18 months after leaving Baroness Ashton will not be allowed to take any post that does not meet with EU approval.
The extended payout, amounting to 55 per cent of her salary, is also intended to ensure she does not spend time in her last months of office looking for new posts.
A spokesman for the European Commission said: “The terms and conditions for European Commissioners aren’t decided by the Commission but are fixed by agreement of member states.”
Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP for Clacton, told The Independent the “Euro-elite” were “out of touch” with the ordinary people of Europe. He said: “I think at a time of austerity it’s very hard to justify this sort of pay-off for bureaucrats.”