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
UK Police Tell Subjects Not to Harm Their Attackers, Get a Rape Alarm
The latest dispatch from the United Kingdom’s ongoing campaign to eliminate all forms of armed self-defense seems too incredible to be true. Unfortunately, after tracking down the origin of a publicly distributed statement regarding self-defense products on the country’s “Ask the Police” website, we can confirm that British subjects continue to live at the mercy of their potential attackers. Even ...
Activists Plan to Burn American Flags in New York City Ahead of Fourth of July
Burning the flag in Charleston, South Carolina on June 22, 2015
A group calling for the immediate disarmament of the New York Police Department plans to burn American flags in a Brooklyn park on Wednesday, just days before the Fourth of July holiday.
“Disarm NYPD” announced the “Burn the American Flags” event on Facebook, inviting individuals to join the organization at Fort ...
Ruiz: Diversity of New York City languages makes staying involved in kidsâ€™ education difficult for immigrant parents
Immigrant parent seek better translation and interpretation services from the Department of Education at the New York Immigration Coalition.
New Yorkers, who come from every corner of the world, speak 180 languages. Not surprisingly, nearly half of public school students speak a language other than English at home.
This makes life difficult for the city's Department of Education, which, according to federal ...
Ethnic Studies to Become Mandatory in Sacramento Schools by 2016
The fourth most diverse school district in the nation is finally adding an ethnic studies graduation requirementâ€”in 2020.
The Sacramento City Unified School District's Board of Trustees unanimously approved the proposal from its Student Advisory Council on June 4. The proposal will create an ethnic studies pilot program for fall 2016.
In collaboration with community organizations, local university professors and college students, ...
It Begins: New Calls To Strip Churches of Tax Exempt Status After Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
For years conservatives and proponents of religious liberty in America have warned that if same-sex marriage became legal, the left would then pursue revoking the tax exempt status for religious institutions, particularly Christian churches, around the country.
Just days after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that gay marriage is a constitutional right, progressive activists like Mark Oppenheimer of ...
|More News » |