Labour says Tony Blair wasn’t paid for Muscat endorsement

Labour insists former UK PM Tony Blair, one of the world’s highest-paid public speakers, wasn’t paid to endorse Joseph Muscat 

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has endorsed Joseph Muscat
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has endorsed Joseph Muscat

The Labour Party has denied that Tony Blair was paid to endorse Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

A PL spokesperson told MaltaToday that the endorsement was arranged following contact between the Labour Party and Blair’s communication team, but that no money passed hands. 

The former UK Prime Minister has been ranked as one of the most highly-paid public speakers in the world, and in 2015 drew controversy when he pulled out of giving a 20-minute speech at the World Hunger Forum because the organisers couldn’t meet his £330,000 price tag.

In his endorsement of Muscat, aired during a Labour mass meeting at the Granaries on Sunday, Blair hailed the Maltese Prime Minister as “a great example of what progressive politicians could do in power”.

He listed Malta’s economic success and the record low levels of unemployment.

“A lot was done for women’s rights and for the LGBTI community,” he said, adding that he was “delighted” to see Malta holding the EU presidency.

“I know elections are always tough and sometimes they don’t always focus on the issues that matter, but they’re a moment of great decision. And so, as Malta approaches [election day], I congratulate him and wish him luck.”

Following the endorsement, PN candidate and surgeon Kevin Cassar wrote a letter to Blair to warn that his decision “drags you down with Dr Muscat’s inner core into a world where evil is rewarded”.

“There is nothing progressive in a government that intimidates the free press, arrests editors of newspapers who dare expose his crimes, sues a Pulitzer winning journalist, employs an official in his office [Glenn Bedingfield] whose sole function is to harass and humiliate anybody who opposes the government, whose chief of staff pays the managing director of one of the main newspapers [The Times] hundreds of thousands of euro in dirty money.

“We have become in four short years closer to a repressive autocratic regime than a free European Union member state.”

Joseph Muscat has also been endorsed by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and by former Italian premier Matteo Renzi, while PN leader Simon Busuttil has been endorsed by German MEP and EPP chairman Manfred Weber.