Remainer Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change opens EU lobbying arm to ‘nurture partnerships’ with Eurocrats weeks after he urged Labour to copy and paste Brussels rules
- The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change posted £66million in revenue last year
- Last month the organisation said a Labour govt should copy and paste EU rules
- Britain and Brussels are locked in a post-Brexit trading row over northern Ireland
The multi-million-pound organisation run by Remain-backing former prime minister Sir Tony Blair is to open an EU lobbying arm in Brussels.
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), a non-profit that posted just over £66million in revenues last year, says it plans ‘to develop, build and nurture strategic partnerships’ with Eurocrats.
It comes after Sir Tony’s organisation said last month that a future Labour government should copy and paste EU rules to reduce trade frictions with the bloc.
Britain and Brussels have been locked in a long-running row over post-Brexit trading rules for Northern Ireland that de facto keeps the province inside the EU’s single market and customs union.
The multi-million-pound organisation run by Remain-backing former prime minister Sir Tony Blair is to open an EU lobbying arm in Brussels (pictured on October 28)
The TBI said the UK should mirror Brussels standards to rebuild trade ties.
Sir Keir Starmer has said he has been taking advice from Sir Tony on how to run the country if wins the next election.
Many believe the former prime minister is using the TBI to draw up a new agenda for the centre-Left, including on Europe.
A Labour Party spokesman failed to reply to the Mail’s request for comment as to whether the Leader of the Opposition is also seeing advice from Sir Tony on Britain’s ties with Brussels.
David Miliband, who served as foreign secretary under Labour, said last month that aligning with Brussels diktats was ‘common sense.’
Sir Tony has already recruited Seamus Jeffreson, a former senior European Commission official, to run the operation that promises to ‘coordinate policy’ with the EU.
The highest-paid director at Sir Tony’s institute rakes in just over £410,000 a year, according to the organisation’s latest financial statement.
Launched in December 2016, the former prime minister said the organisation would oppose ‘populism’ and its ‘essentially close-minded approach to globalisation.’
Sir Tony himself repeatedly called for a second referendum in a bid to reverse the 2016 result.
The plans by the TBI to hire staff in the Belgian capital emerged online days after the report calling for Britain to follow large swathes of EU law was published.
According to the bloc’s transparency register, the TBI has no lobbyists registered with the EU institutions.
Yet senior staff managed to secure talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen last year.
They also held two meetings with ex-Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at key moments in the talks.
Major firms and consultancies employ some 25,000 lobbyists in the Belgian capital where they wine and dine top Eurocrats and MEPs to curry favour with those officials who draft EU regulations.
It comes after Sir Tony’s organisation said last month that a future Labour government should copy and paste EU rules to reduce trade frictions with the bloc (file image)
Sir Keir Starmer has said he has been taking advice from Sir Tony on how to run the country if wins the next election (pictured on December 8)
Former Brexit minister David Jones said: ‘Tony Blair appears to be setting himself up in competition to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which is responsible for the UK’s relations with the European Union.
‘It would be interesting to hear what his new office will be lobbying for and how that activity will be supporting the Brexit that the British people decisively voted for in 2016.’
Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes said the plans would ‘enrage Brexit voters.’
‘No doubt Mr Blair will be lobbying for the UK to remain shackled to lots of EU red tape,’ he said.
But a senior European Commission source told the Mail that Eurocrats would welcome Sir Tony’s new presence in the self-styled capital of Europe.
‘You’re sending your best to Brussels,’ the top official said.
A spokesman for the Tony Blair Institute said: ‘We are setting up a small team to work with like-minded organisations and think tanks as well as EU institutions and countries.
‘The aim is to gain a better understanding of policy and decision making relevant to the Institute’s advisory work around the world.’
A British government spokesman declined to comment.