UK Politics

Gordon Brown: I'm an ex-politician

Gordon Brown at a Labour event in Glasgow in September
Image caption Gordon Brown has represented the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath area since 1983

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has described himself as an ex-politician, despite still being an MP.

Mr Brown was asked his view "as a politician" during a panel discussion as part of the World Innovation Summit on Education in Qatar.

He interjected "ex-politician", before the panel chair, BBC journalist Mishal Husain, said: "You're still an MP," which he acknowledged.

Mr Brown has represented the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath area since 1983.

Mr Brown could not be reached for comment on the incident.

He was criticised by Conservative backbencher Henry Smith, who said his "foreign jaunt" showed he "can't even be bothered to turn up for work".

'Interesting description'

The theme was taken up by SNP MP Pete Wishart in the Commons, who asked during the weekly business statement: "Do you know how you can be an MP and be an ex-politician at the same time?"

In response, Leader of the House Andrew Lansley chuckled and said: "Politician is an interesting description".

He added that all MPs have "the responsibility to represent our constituents both in the constituency and, in my view, here at Westminster."

Since the 2010 general election, Mr Brown has spoken five times in the House of Commons - four times on constituency issues and once on the phone-hacking affair.

The Public Whip website shows he has voted in 13.3% of divisions since 2010.

By comparison, his former Chancellor Alistair Darling has taken part in 47.1% of votes and neighbouring Labour backbencher Lindsay Roy has participated in 77.1%.

Mr Brown has received support from unlikely quarters in the House of Lords.

Lord Tebbit, the Conservative former cabinet minister, paid tribute to him during a question on tax avoidance.

He asked if the minister was "aware that a very good precedent has been set on the avoidance of tax by the immediate past prime minister, Mr Brown".

Lord Tebbit continued: "He does not pay tax on the earnings that spring from the things he does as a former prime minister because he gives all those earnings to charity.

"Is that not an example which might be followed by other former prime ministers?"

Treasury spokesman Lord Newby deflected the apparent dig at Brown's predecessor, Tony Blair, saying: "That is way above my pay grade."

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