The first President of Europe
Speculation of this aggrandisement has increased since Mr Blair sang the EU’s praises in Paris as France prepares to oversee the appointment process. In his most important speech since leaving Downing Street last June, addressing 2,000 supporters of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Blair said globalisation was eradicating traditional party lines and class distinctions and rendering old political remedies obsolete: ‘It's about today versus yesterday. Less about politics and more about a state of mind; open as opposed to closed,' he said, en français.
It was a fine interview for the post, as he insisted that the era of left and right was over, and the future was about an empire of values, not disparate and competing nation states:
‘Europe is not a question of left or right, but a question of the future or the past, of strength or weakness. Terrorism, security, immigration, organised crime, energy, the environment, science, biotechnology and higher education. In all these areas, and others, we are much stronger and able to deliver what our citizens expect from us as individual nations if we are part of a strong and united Europe.’
The post of President is due to be created by the EU’s 27 nation-grouping in the second half of 2008, when France will chair EU ministerial meetings. M Sarkozy has already identified Mr Blair as the candidate, referring to him as ‘one of the greats', and Mr Blair’s recent conversion to Roman Catholicism has been seen by many commentators as a precursor. The President will be crowned in January 2009, by which time he will probably have completed his term as Middle East
M Sarkozy is clearly a No 1 fan of Mr Blair, describing him as an ideal candidate to run Europe: 'He is intelligent, he is brave and he is a friend. We need him in Europe. How can we govern a continent of 450 million people if the President changes every six months and has to run his own country at the same time? I want a President chosen from the top - not a compromise candidate - who will serve for two-and-a-half years,' said the French President.
And Cranmer is left thinking of a certain quotation by a certain previous president of the Council of Europe, Paul-Henri Spaak:
‘We do not want another committee. We have too many already. What we want is a man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people, and to lift us out of the economic morass in which we are sinking. Send us such a man and, be he god or the devil, we will receive him.’
Or, indeed, have him foisted upon us.