The Foreign Office has banned Tony Blair and other former ministers from using UK embassy resources when they are on private trips. The crackdown comes after it emerged that the former prime minister was using official residences for free to further his private business interests.
Exhorting the UK ambassadors to not help ex-ministers on their private business work by arranging meetings, the Foreign Office said it wants to avoid "inappropriate use" of taxpayers' money. Former ministers will be allowed to avail the resources only when they are on official tours.
The Foreign Office said in a statement: "Our embassies no longer provide any assistance for visits of former prime ministers and former ministers, unless the visits support UK government objectives. Former prime ministers and former ministers who want support as representatives of UK business must now make their requests through the same process that all companies follow."
Blair had stayed at the British ambassador's Washington residence twice in 2010, it was earlier revealed under a freedom of information (FoI) request submitted by Andrew Bridgen, the Tory MP for North West Leicestershire. The Telegraph has also reported that the former prime minister used the UK's official residences in Manila, Tripoli, and several other places while he was on private business.
During his Manila visit — in which Blair reportedly made £400,000 ($590,000) for his two speeches — the former prime minister was put up at the British ambassador's residence in the Philippines capital for free, at the expense of taxpayers' money, the Telegraph reported.
Bridgen's FoI request sought information on all of Blair's trips abroad but the government has given details on only 20 countries. A spokesperson for Blair responded by saying: "As with other former prime ministers, Mr Blair has been invited to stay at embassies, though for the majority of visits he would stay in a hotel."
"Tony Blair has been treated no differently from any other former PM and the notion that he has used these invitations for business reasons is absurd. He stays only at the express invitation of the ambassador. In the case of both Paris and Washington DC he will have had political meetings as it is useful both for him and the embassy to compare notes."