Former Prime Minister of Britain Tony Blair was for months a frontrunner for the new job of President of the European Union. But the closer the appointment date drew, the less his globally recognised charisma seemed to count.
The first leader of cool Britannia, in the realm of the eurosceptics, was openly pro-European. In public and political minds, the box to check was: ‘interested’. But the Conservative opposition, with realistic ambitions to displace New Labour from power next year led the Stop Blair charge. Britain not using the euro single currency, not being a Schengen open borders country crimped his profile. And Blair’s warm ties with Bush as co-architect of the second Iraq war while ‘old Europe’ argued against it. His post-prime ministership role as special Middle East peace envoy has not born striking results. Yet Downing Street stayed on message, backing Blair as candidate for the EU’s first full-time president, even as other candidates emerged.