Jet set Brown in by-election threat


By Ben Borland
Gordon Brown faces calls to stand down as an MP because he has been on money-spinning engagements around the world and barely working for his constituents.
The Scottish Sunday Express can today reveal the jet-setting ex-Prime Minister earned £1million in 2011 and spent up to 100 days on trips pursuing his own private business.

He had 33 long-haul engagements, including speeches to bankers, billionaire investors and secret business syndicates, commanding fees of up to £60,000 a time.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP also holds two part-time roles – chairman of a policy group at the World Economic Forum and “distinguished global leader in residence” at New York University.

In total, he was paid around £800,000 for his speaking engagements and other business last year, as well as more than £180,000 for air fares and hotels. Most fees were either paid to charity or to the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown, which supports projects around the world.

Many of the MP’s overseas trips – to cities such as Singapore, Las Vegas and Seoul – required him to be away from his Fife constituency for at least two nights.

Mr Brown spoke in only two Westminster debates last year, on the Dalgety Bay radiation scare and an infamous appearance to attack News International during the phone hacking scandal. He asked 10 written questions and took part in 16 per cent of votes on 32 occasions.

By contrast, his busiest months in the international speaking calendar were April to June and September to November, both periods when Parliament was sitting.

Dave Dempsey, leader of the Tory group on Fife Council, said yesterday: “Mr Brown should consider whether he is giving his constituents the service they deserve, and, if not, then he should give way to somebody else. For him to be spending that amount of time doing unrelated things sounds like his constituents are being short-changed.”

Among Mr Brown’s engagements last year was a speech to the World 50 group in New York, for which he was paid his standard £36,000 fee as well as flights and hotels worth £11,255.

The World 50 is an invitation-only club for global tycoons and executives where members can plot their business dealings secretly “in an environment free from press, competition or solicitation”.

In May, he gave a speech to a conference organised by investment firm Skybridge Capital at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas alongside George W Bush. Mr Brown again shared a platform with the former US President the following month, when both men addressed the Pershing Insite conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

In October, he was paid £62,000 to address the World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, South Korea, alongside former US Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Annabelle Ewing, the SNP MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said yesterday: “It won’t sit well with people in Kirkcaldy that Gordon Brown is travelling the world. He was elected to represent the people of Kirkcaldy at home and in the Commons and that should always come first.”

Courtesy of the Scottish Sunday Express