James Forsyth

Why the Tories might be backing Blair for the EU presidency

Why the Tories might be backing Blair for the EU presidency
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This morning’s story in The Times about how the Tories won’t oppose Tony Blair becoming President of Europe if the post is created can be read on two levels. The high-minded one is that Blair as a pro-American, economic liberal is as good as it is going to get from a British perspective so why try and block him. As one top Tory tells the paper, “Frankly we could do a lot worse”.

The more scheming one is that the Tories are still worried about Blair’s domestic vote-winning potential. A few weeks back I was chatting with one of the most politically astute Tory strategists about how the coming general election campaign might play out. I was struck by how he was convinced that Blair’s return to the trail would give Labour a boost. But if Blair is President of Europe he’ll have to stay out of domestic politics. And even if the appointment is yet to be made, Blair will be reluctant to portray himself as a partisan figure or alienate David Cameron before the negotiations start. It is, all in all, a rather convenient way of neutralising Blair domestically.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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