Blair steps up fight to be crowned first 'President of EU'
By Jane Merrick | independent.co.uk
Tony Blair has emerged as the leading candidate to become the first permanent president of the European Union after Gordon Brown gave his grudging blessing to the plan. The former prime minister has stepped up his campaign for the job, which he wants to use to build a bridge between Europe and the new Obama administration.
His return to the global stage would be a shock to his critics over the Iraq war and dismay many in Europe.
But The Independent on Sunday has learnt that Mr Brown has accepted that his old rival should be in pole position for the appointment, on the basis that Britain needs to have a key figure in the architecture of the "new world order".
A senior British official said: "He [Brown] will have to swallow hard to sit down in meetings once again with Blair. But he accepts that there needs to be someone from the UK in the new global architecture. There is no opposition to the plan. Things have moved on, people have moved on."
Other European leaders are also broadly supportive because they want a high-profile figure to represent the 27-nation bloc in the new alliance with the US administration. Mr Blair remains a popular figure in the US.
After initially trying to block Mr Blair as a possible candidate last year, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has thrown his weight behind the former prime minister.
As the eyes of the world were on London's G20 summit last Wednesday, Mr Blair held private talks with the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in Brussels. The talks focused on his work as Middle East envoy to the quartet of world powers, but it is almost certain that the two men discussed his candidacy. The former premier also visited Sweden last week, where he shared a platform with Bill Clinton at a climate change conference.
The presidency job is dependant on Ireland voting "yes" to the Lisbon Treaty, which creates the position. The Irish referendum will take place in the autumn.
But Mr Blair's plans could still be scuppered if Angela Merkel loses the German general election in September. She is thought to have a strong desire for the job in the event of defeat.
Britain has already thrown its weight behind Mr Barroso to serve a second term as Commission President. His re-appointment would also strengthen the chances of a British name for the new job.
Mr Blair will have spent two years in the Middle East role by July, giving him a legitimate opportunity to claim he has devoted enough time to the job.
But critics will say Mr Blair has failed to make any significant breakthrough. There is also little chance of progress towards the two-state solution under the new hardline Israeli government led by Binyamin Netanyahu.
In a sign that Mr Blair's mind is on an exit from the Middle East, he said in Brussels: "I think the next six months will be completely critical in determining whether this process will move forward or whether it will slip back. I do believe that if there is not significant progress in the year 2009, the peace process will be in very great jeopardy, because there are decisions that have to be taken."
Tony Blair set to become EU chief as Sarkozy battles to win him the post
Tony Blair converts to Catholicism
Witchcraft and nail clippings: the weird world of Cherie Blair?
Tony Blair & Wife Perform Chant Ritual To Lizards/Pyramid In Mexico
Blair rejects calls for probe into London bombings
New EU foreign policy think tank created - European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
Leading author claims Sarkozy is 'Napoleon in a suit'
Nigel Farage on the New Euro-Nationalists (Video)
EU Constitution author says referendums can be ignored
Sarkozy and Mandelson 'strike a deal to get top EU job for Blair'
Latest News from our Front Page
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.
In its place a "participation society" is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government.
Why a Caucasian-Japanese is not Perceived as Japanese
The Japan Times has a hilarious article about a White guy who is angry and upset at the horrible and racist world we live in because customs agents and border agents are questioning his "right to be Japanese."
It's seems that Debito Arodou's experience at border crossings suggest that no one takes a White guy seriously, for claiming to be Japanese.
"Open the border - we're going to the UK!" Chanting mob of 200 storm Eurotunnel
Migrants make their way towards the Tunnel entrance in the early hours of Sunday morning
An organised mob of 200 migrants charged into the Calais entrance of the Channel Tunnel early yesterday, chanting â€˜open the bordersâ€™ and demanding to be allowed into Britain.
They tore down fences and charged past police, who retaliated by spraying tear gas. When the migrants were finally ...
Forgotten British Heroes Campaign
The text of the letter from the Forgotten British Heroes Campaign to the Israel ambassador in London, Daniel Taub.
This will be delivered to the Israel Embassy on Saturday 1st August, the day on which the Campaign will hold a wreath-laying and then a meeting at the site of a notorious Zionist terrorist bombing near to Trafalgar Square (the former British ...
Baltimore Murders Tie Records After Freddie Gray Killing, 45 Killed In July To Make It The Deadliest Month In At Least 45 Years
The number of people murdered in Baltimore hit a record-tying 45 homicides for the month of July, the Baltimore Sun is reporting. The number is an uptick that follows a trend of increased violence in the city in the months after the Baltimore riots that resulted from the death of unarmed black man Freddie Gray on April 12.
The increased violence in Baltimore, which was already one ...
|More News » |