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Coming soon: Blair vs Cameron, round two.

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The next headache for the future PM

Now that Ireland has conformed to the wishes of the EU Commission and performed a volte face on the Lisbon Treaty, the country’s leader, according to Slugger O’Toole is lining up with the backers of Tony Blair to ensure that the former British PM provides further cause for headaches for Conservative Leader David Cameron as he prepares to launch his bid to oust Gordon Brown from Downing Street.

EurActiv paints the scene:

Installing Blair as EU Council president would also constitute a significant political coup for beleaguered British PM Gordon Brown, who current polls indicate is almost certain to lose power to the UK Conservatives in next year’s general election.

Should Blair become Council president, Britain’s prime-minister-in-waiting David Cameron – a noted opponent of the Lisbon Treaty – would be confronted with the unenviable prospect of not only having a Labour commissioner in situ in Brussels, but being forced to sit with other EU leaders at meetings chaired by Blair, the British Conservatives’ arch-nemesis who defeated his party at three consecutive elections.

If, following an Irish ‘yes’, the remaining countries that have yet to fully ratify the Lisbon Treaty do so over the coming weeks, it is expected that a final decision on the new president will be made at the EU summit on 29-30 October.

Blair, of course will be fully backed by Gordon Brown’s government even if through gritted teeth, back in July the Prime Minister’s spokesman stated:

“It’s the prime minister’s view that Tony Blair would be a good candidate for any big international job.

If Tony Blair decides to stand as president of the European Council, once that job has been created, then of course we will support him.”

Europe Minister Glenys Kinnock added:

“The UK government is supporting Tony Blair’s candidature for president of the Council, it is the government’s position. I am sure they would not do that without asking him.”

Naturally the South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary David Miliband is one of those fully supporting Blair, his old mentor and patron:

“I think he would be an excellent choice, if he decides to put forward his name. What I think is important is that we need a strong person at the head of the European Union”

So despite William Hague having a good wheeze at Gordon Brown’s expense (watch this video)


it is likely that Blair and Brown will have the last laugh as one European leader after another lines up behind the expected Blair bid to become President of the EU Council, and Cameron’s headaches may may be compounded if Lisbon is ratified by Poland and Czechoslovakia before we reach the general election next year. David Cameron has pledged that we in Britain will have a plebiscite on the Lisbon Treaty within days of the Conservatives taking office, the legislation, apparently has already been drafted, but this is all dependent upon the position in other member states. If Lisbon has been ratified by then a new policy will be formulated, as a reaction rather than a pro activity, there are many within the grass roots of the Conservative Party who would call for sweeping renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU  but as Slugger points out in this post

“it is no longer the case that a country can deal with any single great issue on the purely domestic plane”

I’m not sure that I wholly agree but his insight does point to the next major headache for a Cameron government in trying to deal with an EU Commission that includes a Labour appointed Commissioner, and a Council with a former Labour PM as it’s President (with powerful allies behind him). He would also have to somehow placate party activists, who in a recent poll conducted for Conservative Home, showed they are in no mood to be easily swayed by Lisbon or the ratification process, they showed that even if Lisbon is ratified by the time of the election that more than half of them want a referendum process to renegotiate our relationship with the EU.

Party managers have deftly moved to ensure that the issue does not feature in the main agenda for this week’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and there are only three events in the Fringe attracting less than 100 attendees, it seems that a plentiful supply of headache tablets has been passed around this weekend. Perhaps this is what is called preventative medicine.

I will leave the last word to one of Slugger’s correspondents aptly named Dave:

I hope that Blair will get the role of EU president. He is perfect to expose the EU in its new role as a quasi-state. It needs a high-profile controversial politician rather than a quiet, non-contentious consensus man. Once the public begin to see the EU as an emergent state rather than as an organisation of states, then the cracks will widen as the warnings from democrats that the EU project is about creating a state will be seen to be empirically true rather than just theoretically true. It has overreached itself with this ambition, and that will be its undoing.

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Written by curly

October 5, 2009 at 9:55 am

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