President Blair? Is he the best hope for faltering EU project?

The former PM, a pro-European to his manicured fingertips, appears to make a pitch for the job

Column LAST UPDATED AT 10:45 ON Tue 27 May 2014

Could Tony Blair be pushing himself forward to become the next President of the European Union? The question has been raised after a Radio 4 Today programme interview which sounded like an application for the job.

While David Cameron hits the phone to Angela Merkel ahead of tonight's panic summit of European heads in Brussels, Blair is already in Berlin for face-to-face talks with the German Chancellor about how to rescue the European project from a swing to the anti-EU parties across the continent, including Ukip in Britain and the Front National in France.

As Blair's one-time Minister for Europe Denis MacShane tweeted this morning: “While Cam pleads with Merkel on phone line from Downing St bunker Blair is sur place in Berlin for face-to-face with Angie. TB for Com Prez?”

The rise of the Eurosceptics – make that Euro-haters - has clearly left EU leaders wobbling at the knees. But Blair said they should toughen up and he accused Ukip of being “nasty and unpleasant” despite the surge in popularity for Farage’s party in the local and European elections.

“I have always said you have to have proper controls on immigration and deal with those parts of the immigrant population who are rejecting integrating into the mainstream. However, to allow that to trend into anti-immigrant feeling is a huge mistake for the country.

“People in Ukip say other politicians don’t get it. I do get it and I get them. If you look a little bit beneath that Ukip façade you see something pretty nasty and unpleasant.”

Ukip and the FN – not to mention fascist Golden Dawn or the extreme lefties in Athens – are "very reactionary forces," said Blair.  "You have got to confront them, expose them and take them on."

Blair was touted as a possible EU president in 2009 when Labour under Gordon Brown was heading for defeat in the 2010 general election. At that time, his allies let it be known he would only be interested in the job if it carried real power.

As The Week reported at the time, friends of the former PM told The Times that he wants to "make a difference" and not just act as the permanent chairman of the EU Council of Ministers, which is all some European leaders expect of him. It would also have meant a massive cut in his annual income, reckoned to be over £10 million.

So Blair passed up the chance five years ago, but times and Farage/Le Pen have radically changed the face of Europe. He could now be seen as just the man to step in and rescue the European project from the Vandals and the Visigoths. And having earned a ton of money since he left Downing Street, the appeal of the title – President Blair – might now outweigh other considerations.

Blair has a powerful case as a candidate: whether you like him or loathe him, he’s still box office. He’s not a faceless bureaucrat like the two front-runners for the post, Jean-Claude Juncker, the former PM of Luxembourg and Martin Shulz, a German lefty and president of the European Parliament.

More important, as Blair demonstrated on Today, he is pro-European down to his manicured fingertips. His comments this morning will be music to the ears of the centrists who still hold the power in Europe, despite the rise of the Eurosceptics.

“You have to expose the fact that these parties have no solutions to the problems of the 21st Century," he said. "For a country like Britain, if you want to exercise weight and power and influence in the world, you have to do it through alliances.

“The rationale for Europe today is probably stronger than it’s ever been… the rationale for Europe today is power.”

Blair brushed aside concerns that the long-delayed Chilcot report into allegations of an “illegal” invasion of Iraq could lead to him being branded as a war criminal. Blair said he wants the report to be published so he can answer any allegations. · 

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Blair for President of the European Union!? I think they are forgetting how universally loathed the petty little authoritarian is here in the UK. What a gift it would be for UKIP, though!

I'd rather slit my throat than have Blair as President of the EU. The man's a criminal and should be in jail, not in charge.

.....the barefaced audacity of the man! He epitomises all that is wrong with the EU project - self-serving, self-seeking, undemocratic and deaf to all reasoned argument, if that argument should not coincide with his own prejudices.

I agree with Nota Bene - Blair should be in prison - or at least on remand - until the findings of the Chilcott enquiry, on his dealings over Iraq are published.

Still - it might just be sufficient humiliation for all the Blairites out there to see their man hauled off from Brussels to the Hague - almost next door, really, so not too far to travel. Wonder if he will claim expenses for his trip in a prison van?

Nothing but a dirty crooked war criminal who has been doing everything in his power to obstruct the chilly report,if this piece of grasping filth ever takes public office again it will be a disaster,he has sucked every penny he can out of the middle east peace and his corrupt banker friend,bad enough his son Ewan is being given a nice safe seat at Westminster,at least Blair's involvement will guarantee the UK leaves the EU.

Part of his plan to drag the EU into US-led war with Iran?

The man needs to hang for treason. If he does become president of the EU expect civil war in Britain.
Which would actually be a good thing. So I guess good luck to him because we're long overdue a civil war and a new set of heads piked on the bridges of London

It's strange that I think he should be in prison, yet at the same time think he is the only man with balls big enough for the job. If they insert a kill switch into his brain which the British public can vote to activate at any time, I'm in favour of this.

If there's going to be anyone in charge of the runaway gravy train, it should be this maniac who at least is respected/feared by opposition leaders. At the moment Europe is for the most part sitting around with it's thumb up its arse. The US is on the way out, the last thing we want is to be dictated to by Asia. One by one our ideology of tolerance and peace will be eroded as we fumble around fighting over the nearest penny. We just need to beam as much episodes of Fawlty Towers into family homes in China and Russia as we can before the power goes out.

I never in a million years thought I'd be supporting a dictator, now I understand what it must feel like to be Russian...

A war criminal as President of the EU? Surely not. Actually, why hasn't he ever had charges brought against him in the Haguving out? Or is that the Vague? Does the Hague pick and choose who they prosecute leaving out their 'own'. It's about time Europe cleaned out their own house.

The Hague is for African and Yugoslav war criminals only. No-one wants to set the precedent of Nato leaders being investigated for war crimes let alone tried. Roll on Chilcot report. My unborn children may be old enough to read and understand it when the full details are revealed.

I wonder who can actually get the Hague to investigate. What does it take? Both Blair and Bush should be tried over Iraq. If they're innocent then all fair and well, but if guilty of crimes against the Iraqi people and government then what sort of message are we sending to Islam? That we are bigots and infidels? No wonder the East mistrusts the West. For the record I was raised as RC but subscribe to no particular religion now. I choose my own road which is only answerable to God. Not self seeking manipulative people.