Blair gives Cameron advice on Europe, denies interest in EU job

Business Leaders breakfast hosted by Tony Blair and Marc Holtzman- Davos, 22 January 2014 [Photo: Paul Kagame's Flickr photo stream] ]
Business Leaders breakfast hosted by Tony Blair and Marc Holtzman. Davos, 22 January 2014. [Paul Kagame/Flickr]]

Tony Blair on Monday (2 June) offered British Prime Minister David Cameron indirect advice on renegotiating Britain's ties with the European Union, but ruled himself out as a candidate to become the next European Council president.

A British newspaper reported over the weekend that the former British prime minister was seeking a prominent pan-European role following European Parliament elections last month in which Eurosceptic parties performed strongly in several countries, including Britain.

It said Blair had offered his services as an unpaid pro-reform advocate of the EU to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a meeting last week, fuelling speculation he might be interested in becoming the next European Council president.

But Blair, who has a global political consultancy business and is still resented by many Britons for the way he handled the Iraq War, on Monday rejected the idea that such a role could extend to him being the next Council president, one of a number of appointments EU leaders are in the process of deciding.

"I am not a candidate ... that is not going to happen," Blair said, during a question and answer session after a speech to business leaders in London on the future of Europe.

Blair, who led Britain's Labour party to three consecutive election victories between 1997 and 2007, was considered for the job of president of the European Council in 2009. The role went to Belgian Herman Van Rompuy.

If re-elected next year, Cameron, a Conservative, has promised to try to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership before holding an in/out referendum by 2017.

On Monday, Blair explained how he thought London should try to reshape the 28-nation bloc.

"The crucial point from the perspective of Europe's future is that we ensure the British issue with Europe does not disable us from playing our part in the larger question," he said.

"This will require us to be careful in framing the argument for change in Europe in a way that builds alliances for the good of Europe as a whole, including the UK, not in a way that simply satisfies a narrow gauge dispute between the UK and the rest of Europe."

The elected heads of state of the European Council should get involved with EU reform, said Blair, and set out a clear "manifesto for change" in Europe, including greater cooperation in areas such as energy, trade and defence.

"The council has to reassert powerfully and plainly its responsibility to give Europe direction, to match the policy ambitions of Europe with a set of concrete proposals to realise them, and then task the Commission with carrying them out," he said.

  • 18 Sept. 2014: Scottish independence referendum
  • May 2015: UK to hold general election
  • 2017: EU membership referendum proposed by David Cameron


an european's picture

Tony Blair as an Council President ..why not!
He is very competent!

But :
"we ensure the British issue with Europe does not disable us from playing our part in the larger question"
I would say the British "issue" would better self-playing on their own!

Europe has still an economic and monetary issue !
As long as Europe didn't tackle that issue FIRST then there is no need for a British handbrake for it's own business/banks interests.

GeorgeMc's picture

You can have him after he has been to The Hague to answer for war crimes.

On the other hand look at his track record and ask yourself, should someone like that be visited on the countries of the EU?

I remember reading that Ronald Regan, the US President was a 'B' listed actor (second rate). who became an A list President.
I would suggest to you that Tony Blair was a B listed politician who could easily have won an Oscar for his acting ability as UK Prime Minister!

Gerry's picture

Since Blair was not put forward as a candidate by any party, for him to be elected as council president now would require a fascist coup. At least Merkel shows respect for the democratic process, she has listened to the popular vote and is trying to correlate that with the opinions held by the commissioners. Europe comes first here, national interests have to come second. If Blair aspired to this position he would have to follow the proper process, but I believe there are still some legal matters awaiting him regarding the way he dragged the UK into the Iraq conflict.

evad666's picture

"Require a fascist coup"? Surely hard to mount while the EU has so many closet marxists in power?