I could earn more if I wanted, says Blair after criticism of envoy role

 

Tony Blair has spoken out against "hurtful" allegations that he has profiteered from his diplomatic missions to the Middle East, saying that most of the work he does is unpaid.

Rising resentment against the former prime minister, especially from within Palestine, has dogged recent attempts to help push forward peace plans, and he has been accused of profiting from commercial deals.

"It's completely untrue. Even [for] me with my broad shoulders and thick skin after all these years, it's not pleasant to have people say that," he told an Indian television channel. "I probably spend two thirds of my time on pro bono activity. I probably spend the biggest single chunk of my time on the Middle East peace process, which I do unpaid.

"If what I was interested in doing was making money I could make a lot more and have a very gentle and easy life." On Libya he said: "I've never made any commercial deals out of Libya at all. I was very instrumental in bringing him in from the cold when he gave up his nuclear and chemical weapons, started co-operating in the fight against terrorism. I hoped he might shift internal policy to match external policy shifts, but he did not."

He also dismissed accusations of having too cozy a relationship with media barons. "If you're in a situation where these guys can literally take out any ministers and make your government rock, you've got no option to work hard and try to bring them around," he said

"This is not so much about a cosy relationship, it's a relationship in which you are dealing with people who have the capacity to do very great damage."

His comments came as the Palestinian Authority denied it plans to make a formal request to remove Mr Blair from his position as a Middle East envoy. The former Prime Minister has held the position of special envoy for the Quartet, made up of the US, Russia, the EU and UN, for four years. However, some Palestinians believe he is biased towards the Israelis.

A spokesman for the PA said while there was great unhappiness with Mr Blair's role as envoy, his removal was not a priority. He added there were no plans to formally ask for Mr Blair to be replaced. There has been a series of mainly anonymous Palestinian complaints about Mr Blair's role as a mediator in the run-up to President Mahmoud Abbas's application for UN recognition a week ago. And Nabil Shaath, a member of the delegation Mr Abbas took to New York, was highly critical 13 days ago of the draft Quartet statement, which Mr Blair presented to the Palestinian President a few days earlier.

Mr Shaath said on the record at the time Mr Blair seemed "sometimes" more like an "Israeli diplomat" than a neutral interlocutor.

Cherie turns to business

Cherie Blair has accepted the directorship of a company that hopes to make money from the opening up of the NHS to private firms.

The barrister wife of the former Labour Prime Minister is a founder director of Mee, a company that wants to open private clinics in supermarkets, which include Sainsbury's and Tesco. The company is believed to represent Mrs Blair's first foray into commerce.

The move will dismay the Labour Party, which used its conference this week to condemn Coalition plans to open up the NHS to private competition.

On Wednesday, the shadow Health Secretary John Healey told delegates the plans were a "betrayal of our NHS" and would "damage patient care".

The plans would, he added, "break up the NHS as a national health service and set it up as a full-scale market, ruled for the first time by the full force of competition law". Mee claims it will provide a "revolutionary new way of delivering health care".

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes