Tony Blair slaps down David Cameron over lobbying claims

 

Whitehall Editor

Tony Blair has slapped down David Cameron for suggesting that the former prime minister used his position to lobby him – possibly for private clients.

Mr Cameron yesterday sought to fend off questions about the business interests of the Tories' chief election strategist Lynton Crosby by drawing a comparison with Blair.

At a press conference said Mr Cameron said: “Tony Blair is someone who does lobby me from time to time on things like the Middle East peace process.

“Do I have to know who all Tony Blair's other clients are? If I did that, I don't think I've got enough paper in my office to write them on.”

But a spokesperson for Blair then hit back, saying nobody could “seriously compare” Blair's work as Middle East envoy with that of a business lobbyist.

“Tony Blair does not 'lobby' David Cameron,” the spokesperson said. “You cannot seriously compare Tony Blair's role as quartet representative, which requires him to talk to governments around the world about the Middle East peace process, to that of a lobbyist.”

Mr Cameron gave vent to his frustration after weeks of questions about Crosby during an interview with Gary Gibbon, the Channel 4 News political editor.

Mr Gibbon challenged Cameron to explain why he kept “denying a question that isn't asked”. 

He said: “The question was: did Lynton Crosby – in the room, during a strategy meeting – say: 'Actually some of these bits of legislation rather clutter up the business of government and the focus of government and maybe it would be better to focus on other things'. Do you deny those details?”

Mr Cameron replied: "I don't recognise the conversation that you are putting forward at all, right? I have been very careful about what I have said which is to say he hasn't lobbied me on any of these issues."

“So the decisions are my decisions, the Government's decisions. You're trying to invent a set of conversations that somehow you think took place.

Gibbon said: "I was trying to throw some sunlight – the best disinfectant as you called it. So we are quite clear: he never discussed this bill with you."

Mr Cameron replied: “I have answered the question very very clearly. I have not been lobbied by anybody on any of these issues.”

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