Tony Blair may now be looking for a top unelected position among the lushly-paid euro-elite.
The former prime minister, who is said to be worth £70m from the business interests he has taken on since leaving Number 10, “offered his services” during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a meeting on Tuesday, details of which were leaked on Friday to the Financial Times, the eurocrats’ favourite paper.
The paper reported that in the meeting Blair was looking for “a pro-European role.” He was said to have promised to “defend the EU from its increasingly vocal critics.”
More, according to the FT, “Earlier this week his office said it saw him acting as an unpaid advocate of the benefits of the EU but also of the need for it to reform itself. ‘He’s very interested in playing a pro-European role, which is why he has been out talking about the arguments for it.'”
On Saturday, Blair’s office came back with a different line: “Tony Blair is not seeking any role, has not discussed any role and doesn’t want any role.” One Sunday newspaper reported that Blair had “reacted angrily” to the leaked account of his meeting with Merkel.
Yet the leak of the meeting gives perfectly-timed publicity to a speech Blair is due to make on Monday to the Confederation of British Industry in London, which, despite the Saturday statement from Blair’s office, looks like another part of a pitch for an EU job.
In the speech he is expected to echo the Brussels establishment’s insistence that politicians hit back at politicians such as UKIP’s Nigel Farage and resist the rise of “populism” – the word the euro-elite use to denigrate the democratic surge of support for anti-EU, pro-national sovereignty parties in the elections to the European Parliament last month.
People identified only as “allies” of Blair say he is not angling for the position of Herman Van Rompuy, the former Belgian prime minister who became the first permanent president of the European Council five years ago when Blair failed in his attempt to be appointed to the job. Leaders of the EU member states must choose a successor to Van Rompuy by the end of the year.
In 2012 Blair said that the EU needs a directly elected president to give the union greater clout on the world stage.
On Tuesday, the former prime minister appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Today show and praised LibDem leader Nick Clegg for making the pro-EU case. He also said that Labour must not follow UKIP’s policies in the hope of regaining lost voters. He added that European leaders must “confront and expose” parties such as UKIP.