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Thursday 16 July 2009

President Blair?

As the EU is a subject on which few in and around the media are even remotely agnostic, the idea of its first appointed President might be thought to generate some airtime or column inches – especially given one of the names that is being considered for this particular frame.

As I take a generally positive approach to the EU, anything that appears to gift ammunition to the Europhobe fringe is less than welcome with me. So when the name of Tony Blair gets put forward for first EU President, I start to wonder whether such a move is a good thing: there will inevitably be accusations of cronyism, “jobs for the boys”, and of course anything under the subject of expenses will be done to death.

But put forward he has been, if only informally at this stage: the Beeb has reported that Blair’s name has been pitched by Europe minister Glenys Kinnock. However, the presidential idea, being part of the Lisbon Treaty, is only going to come into being if the Irish vote “yes” in their revisited Referendum, which is likely to be held in October. If that hurdle is cleared, and it’s by no means a “gimme”, things will kick off soon afterwards.

Meaning that, as Blair is not the only name being put forward, there is going to be some level of debate as to who gets the job. From what Glenys Kinnock was saying, it would seem that Blair has been sounded out and would like the role. But so would Spain’s Felipe Gonzalez, and he’s from the same party as current PM Jose Zapatero, so that’s one vote for him.

Who will vote Blair? Well, Pa Broon will feel duty bound to do so, and Silvio “Duce” Berlusconi is also a supporter. Personally, I wouldn’t want to depend on “Duce”, but Blair, I suspect, won’t be fussed. What effect would a change of Government in the UK have on the appointment? Not much, if the deed had already been done, even though, as William ‘Ague has been making much adverse comment on the Blair candidacy, Young Dave may not be keen.

Does it matter anyway? Maybe, if the Tories come to power in the UK, Blair could become an instrument of Labour mischief making. The current teething troubles being experienced by the new right wing EP grouping containing Tory MEPs – or at least most of them – may also be grist to the mill for Labour and a distraction for Cameron.

Yes, that new grouping outside the EPP is already experiencing some turbulence. It’s not in all the papers, but it’s simmering nicely. A look at that next.

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