Why there won't be a deal on tobacco in the UK

It may be Christmas and a quiet time in the F1 world but in the world of British politics the wheels are still turning and the news today is that Prime Minister Tony Blair is going to have to explain why he failed to declare a holiday with a tobacco baron. In 2002 Blair spent five days as a guest of Alain Dominique Perrin, in the south-west of France. At the time, Perrin was chief executive of the luxury goods firm Richemont, a company which owns Rothmans and since a merger owns a 21% stake in British American Tobacco. Blair has to explain to Sir Philip Mawer, the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, why the holiday was not declared. The Labour Party's links with the tobacco industry are always a subject which creates controversy because of a 1997 scandal over a donation made by Bernie Ecclestone after it emerged that he had lobbied Blair to delay a ban tobacco sponsorship.

In the light of this new flare-up it is hard to see any way in which the British are now going to ignore the ban on international coverage being shown in Britain, which is due to take effect on July 31 2005. And that means that either F1 gets rid of its logos around the world or F1 is blacked out in the UK.

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