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    Former UK Ambassador: Business People Don't Have Skill Set for Diplomacy

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    Ambassadors traditionally boast a long history of service in the foreign office as civil servants, with years of diplomatic experience under their belts. Sputnik spoke to Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria, on Jeremy Hunt's idea that UK businessmen should become diplomats.

    Sputnik: Do you agree with Jeremy Hunt' statement that there won't be any conflict of interest?

    Peter Ford: It's a very bad idea. It's not the first time it's been suggested. In fact, about once every ten years the government of the day comes forward with the suggestion that we need more business people as ambassadors and it never really materializes. Why? Partly because of salaries. Diplomatic salaries are much lower than the average business mogul, therefore, they are not willing to serve or if they are it's not the better quality business people.

    That's number one. Secondly, there's no escaping the fact that experience is essential. If you're going to be an ambassador in the middle east you need to speak the local language and not just be aware of how to fill in an export form. So the idea has been tried before, totally failed and Hunt is just reinventing the wheel and will discover the same failure at the end of it.

    READ MORE: Jeremy Hunt Aims to Label Jeremy Corbyn as Extremist — Journalist

    Sputnik: Journalist Patrick Cockburn has also indicated it would be a disastrous move and one that indicates Hunt has not really taken on board what has gone wrong with British diplomacy in recent years — would you agree with that?

    Peter Ford: Yes, absolutely, I would just say two words: Donald Trump. There's a businessman — could anyone claim that he's been a terrific success as a diplomatic? Rather the opposite I think. Business people have completely skill sets to what is needed in diplomacy and diplomacy is not just about business, it's about security, it's about war and peace and about terrorism.

    What is a business person going to bring to that discussion that the ordinary Joe in the street couldn't bring? This is all part of the denigration of professional diplomats that we've seen in Britain for a number of years now — the running down of the foreign office. Hunt this week has belatedly announced re-expansion. This is after a number of years of running the service down and it's too little too late.

    The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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