Tony Blair's 'ego pampering' Middle East role costs Brit taxpayers £600,000 annually

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Washington, Jan. 16 (ANI): In a bid to support Tony Blair's role of Middle East peace envoy, a whopping 600,000 pounds are being spent annually, but the former British Prime Minister has not spoken to a Foreign Office minister since October.

It was revealed during parliamentary questions that 600,000 pounds a year is being spent to support Blair's office, as four Whitehall officials are working for him full-time, whom he selected personally, and is given public money for office accommodation and IT.

"Everyone knows that the post of Middle East Envoy was created simply to pamper Tony Blair's ego and wasn't a serious appointment. What we didn't know, however, was that this pointless ego trip was to be heavily funded by the British taxpayer, at the whopping cost of over half a million a year," TheTelegraph quoted Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, as saying.

"How could the man who helped invade Iraq possibly be seen as an honest broker in the Middle East? After two years, he has barely set foot in the Palestinian territories, preferring it seems to hole up in his luxurious hotel suite," he added.

As soon as Blair left Downing Street in 2007 he was given the high-profile diplomatic post of Representative of the Quartet - the UN, EU, US and Russia - in the Middle East.

It was also revealed that Blair's last meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was on 14 October 2009, and he has never met ministers at the Department for International Development, who provide much of the support for his position as Office of the Quartet Representative.

"The fact that the Foreign Secretary has not even met Tony Blair for three months and that meetings only happen rarely in any case suggests that there is very little return for the taxpayer for the vast amounts of public money being committed," Baker asked.

"The British government should end their funding for this pointless post now. The former Prime Minster, whose apparent willingness to engage almost any cause if there is money attached, is becoming a national embarrassment for this country," he added. (ANI)

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