There has been a public display of togetherness in Paris, from what many see as an unlikely pairing. The former Labour Prime Minister of the UK has been wowing the conservative President of France. Nicolas Sarkozy invited Tony Blair to address the National Council of the UMP party in Paris, and he went down a storm.
Speaking in French, Blair said: “In the USA, I would be a Democrat. In the UK, I am Labour. In France, I would be,” he paused for a moment, “probably in the government.” The audience dissolved into laughter. “No, no I’m joking,” he went on, “I’m staying with my political family. I would be a socialist, but on the side of those who have reform close to their hearts.”
Sarkozy stopped short of publicly backing Blair to become President of the European Union, but only just.
The President said: “No doubt then, he’s a socialist, but for a socialist like that there’s always a place in the French government. Tony Blair is one of Europe’s greats. He played a key role in the adoption of the simplified Treaty. And I want to say to Tony that we certainly need the UK in Europe. We need you, your place is in the European Union.”
Sarkozy said, some months ago, that Blair is an obvious candidate for the European Presidential role. It is due to be created later this year, once all 27 member states have ratified the new Treaty of Lisbon.