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Blair ‘selling his soul’ with six-figure speeches deal

Tony Blair is set to receive a six-figure sum for giving a series of talks to a hedge fund that reportedly made millions by betting on the collapse of British banks.

Critics have accused Mr Blair of “selling his soul” after details of his forthcoming private speeches to Lansdowne Partners emerged.

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Reports claim that company made £100 million on the demise of Northern Rock and £12m on the fall in value of Barclays by short-selling shares.

Mr Blair, whose “light-touch” regulation of the financial industry is criticised for having aided the credit crunch, will give four talks on geo­politics to executives at the firm.

He has become one of the world’s highest-paid public speakers, with a string of engagements organised for him by the Washington Speakers Bureau. The former prime minister can command more than £150,000 for a 90-minute talk.

He is estimated to have earned at least £15m since leaving office, with highly-paid lobbying jobs and a £4.5m advance for his memoirs.

He joined JP Morgan, the third-largest bank in the US, as a senior adviser on global politics with a reported salary of £2m. It is understood Mr Blair will not be taking on a similar role at London-based Lansdowne Partners.

Last night Peter Kilfoyle Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, said: “Blair seems obsessed with making money. It is not something I would associate with Labour politics, at least not to that degree. It is rather depressing that he seems to sell his soul.”

Mr Kilfoyle said he did not think that Mr Blair’s latest round of money- making activities would surprise many Labour members.

“He seems to be hawking himself around. I think it sad that anybody should be reduced to that. It is not because of want or need, it is just a predisposition to making more and more money.”

A spokesman for the former prime minister said: “These talks were organised by the Washington Speakers Bureau. Mr Blair has not taken a job with Lansdowne Partners.”

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