Blair’s EU presidency odds have shortened. Will he race to a win?

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  • UPDATE 2:15pm, Tuesday 17th: Just as I suggested 13 hours ago, Mr Blair is closing in on Mr Rompuy.  Blair’s present odd are now 5:00 from 6:00, though Rompuy has moved UP a fraction at 1:44, from 1:50.  The next two have both dropped back to 9:00. There are just over 3 and a half points separating Rompuy and Blair as it stands. Still all to play for, for OUR MAN. Benedict Brogan has some thoughts on this too. See here.

    Comment at end

    17th November, 2009


    I’ve been monitoring ONE betting site, for consistency’s sake, and have to report that when I checked a couple of hours  ago Tony Blair’s odds had weakened from the fairly consistent 6:50 of  the past week to 7:00.

    Now they have dramatically strengthened to 6:00.

    By some margin he still trails Van Rompuy, who remains at 1:50, where he has been for the last week. But one whole point closer to the winning post for Blair is indicative of some movement and may betray the complexities of the political deal-making behind the closed doors of the EU. The fact that few candidates have yet declared is just by the way.

    [Presently Juncker is third at 7:50 and Balkenende fourth at 8:00.]

    Expect Blair to gain on Van Rompuy is the next few days as third and fourth drop back. As The Guardian article below shows, there is still a strong possibility that rumours of Blair’s EU presidency death have been exaggerated.

    An early indication as to whether or not Tony Blair is likely to be appointed will be his whereabouts on Thursday evening. If he is at dinner in Brussels, Hague and Cameron will be down the local drowning their sorrows.

    Guardian: ‘Tony Blair retains an outside chance of EU presidency’

    By Nicholas Watt and Ian Traynor

    One British official said: 'There is no consensus. Blair is not dead. He still stands a chance.' Photograph: Paulo Duarte/AP

    “Many candidates will be in Brussels because they will be attending the dinner as EU leaders. It is highly unlikely that Blair would attend the summit unless he was to be appointed, because he is the only candidate who does not hold office.”

    Tony Blair still stands an outside chance of assuming the new post of president of the European council, amid signs that EU leaders will take the selection process down to the wire at an emergency summit on Thursday.


    British government officials believe that the former prime minister could emerge victorious at the last minute because there is no consensus on a candidate among the EU’s 27 leaders.

    Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister, who will chair Thursday’s summit as part of his country’s rotating presidency of the EU, is embarking on fresh consultations with the 27 leaders.

    Reinfeldt had hoped to present the leaders on Thursday with a list of three names for the three posts that are to be decided – the president of the European council, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy and the secretary general of the European council.

    There was a growing acknowledgment tonight that Reinfeldt may fail to find agreement before the summit and that the decision could go down to “coffee and mints” at the dinner on Thursday night, as one observer put it.

    Cecilia Malmstrom, the Swedish Europe minister, said in Brussels: “There are still more names than posts.”

    Herman Van Rompuy, the Belgian prime minister, is still seen as the frontrunner for the presidency because he meets two criteria demanded by many EU leaders – he hails from the EU’s dominant centre-right and he is the leader of a small member state. But Van Rompuy does not enjoy overwhelming support, keeping Blair’s hopes alive. One British official said: “There is no consensus. Blair is not dead. He still stands a chance.”

    It is understood that Blair will allow his name to remain in play until the end of the process unless it becomes abundantly clear by the eve of the summit that he has no support beyond diehards in London and Rome. The former prime minister is said to be realistic about his chances.

    In a sign of the uncertainty over the process, Poland demanded that candidates for the two main posts of president and high representative appear at the summit on Thursday to present their credentials. Radek Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, told a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels that the process needed to be more open.

    Many candidates will be in Brussels because they will be attending the dinner as EU leaders. It is highly unlikely that Blair would attend the summit unless he was to be appointed, because he is the only candidate who does not hold office.

    The uncertainty over the new posts, which come into force after the Lisbon treaty was finally ratified by all member states, means that the EU is heading for a classic round of horse trading.

    One factor in Blair’s favour is the failure of the centre-left to find a credible candidate for the post of foreign policy high representative.

    This could go to a candidate from the centre-right – the former Hong Kong governor Lord Patten is being tipped in some circles, while the Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini could triumph at the last minute – possibly handing the presidency to Blair.



    Interestingly, he criticised former Belgian PM Jean-Luc Dehaene for wanting to leave Belgium in 1994 to become EU Commission President, saying: “I was furious at Dehaene when he wanted to go to the European Commission. I have sent him a letter twice, hopefully for him he has thrown it away. I did not want it and I found it a shame that he would leave us in the lurch.” (De Morgen, 11 February 2006).

    Is he about to leave Belgium in the lurch too, and fulfill a wish to become EU President?

    Van Rompuy seems pretty good at doing the opposite of what he has pledged. In 2007 he warned: “I know that some are contemplating having a Belgian Federal government backed only by a minority of Flemish MPs in the Belgian Parliament. A government which only has a majority in Wallonia is playing with fire. I am now speaking in the interest of the country: this is dangerous for the sake of the State” (De Morgen, 27 januari 2007). One year later he was and still is the leader of such a government.

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    9 Responses to “Blair’s EU presidency odds have shortened. Will he race to a win?”

    1. margaret walters Says:

      it’s come out today in the mail Rompuy wants to get rid of national flags and bring in a EU wide tax system which isn’t going down well with tory papers here or the czech republic or poland. the mail thinks now blair might even be better for us as EU president than the Rompuy Boy. it is getting interesting

    2. Will it be Napoleon Van Rompuy, or Friday breakfast in Brussels for Blair? « Tony Blair Says:

      […] Tony Blair « Blair’s EU presidency odds have shortened. Will he race to a win? […]

    3. DC Says:

      I’ve put £50 on 4/1 odds via Paddy Power re Blair FTW; it may well go to Rompuy but the EU are mental if they let this obscure Belgian Leader take the post.

      I respect their decision, those decision makers whoever they are – and no doubt they will have valid reasons – but China doesn’t care about Iraq War and Blair’s name is known there, they can do business with him as can the Americans.

      The EU will be overlooked, not least as English is still the global stock in trade business language, also the reputation of Belgium as a state is pretty poor and divisive and hardly anything to write home about!

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Ditto, DC, though I put mine on at better odds. Maybe we should go out and celebrate, or at least drown our sorrows!

        This is SO important that Europe NEEDS to gets it right and select Blair.

        No-one else, none of the Euro-pygmy alternatives will have a fraction of his international influence. For instance he has an “in” with China, especially over climate issues. This is often down-played here. And if people think America cares what Rompuy thinks about Iran/Israel/Palestine/Middle East/Afghanistan/Iraq OR about re-balancing the world’s finances, they really need a kick up the reality backside.

        People should get used to this. It is an irrefutable FACT.

    4. quietzapple Says:

      I think it was Rompuy on the radio saying that he and other less well known candidates had experience of bringing left and right wing parties into coalitions.

      Blair’s role in N Ireland might be accounted similar perhaps?

      But I still suspect that the smaller nations will unite (pretty much behind Rompuy or similar)

      Gordon Brown again backing his old partner in the ascendancy of the Labour Party.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Coalition, QZ? Presumably because their proportional system meant they HAD to.

        Blair, on the other hand with a huge majority in 1997 TRIED to bring others into coalition but was stymied by Prescott and Brown. Ahsdown swears that Blair was serious in this attempt at an (unnecessary) coalition. The time to be judged on the merits of your decisions is when you DO something, or try to do something, which you are not required or expected to do. Rompuy had no choice. Blair had a choice to bask in the huge majority and ignore other parties.

        As you allude to in your comment his devolution of power to Scotland and Wales as well as bringing together the Northern Ireland elements speaks volumes.

        As for the EU job, I think it is still delicately balanced. Internal and national politics and place-picking in play. But in the end if there is still uncertainty they need to ask themselves whether a big hitter like Blair is what Europe needs right now.

        If these people think about it seriously they will see that it is.

        Obama has reduced America’s influence around the world (at least as far as many Americans, even democrats now see it) by playing the “we’re not the world’s policeman” card. This “America is no more imortant than any other country” stuff may appeal to certain countries. It equally terrifies others.

    5. DC Says:

      You got good odds after the slump in opinion then, but before the October rush he was 2/1 on via Paddy Power or there abouts; I watched Obama’s speech at the weekend in Asia on BBC News in the early hours and it struck me that America is pulling away to Asia, then I realised the EU would get jittery. And here is a link proving that:

      I knew then after watching Obama that the EU might just need a re-think as a new shape is taking place and Europe will be sidelined. China/USA (currency reasons) and no doubt Russia will be tagged on in there somewhere. Where is Europe in all of this?

      I placed my bet today as it is my birthday on the 19, so maybe just maybe; was tempted to through £75 quid at it as it’s well worth a gamble. The EU will be ignored at the time whenever the Chinese know of Blair, America likes him and Blair owes Europe a favour or two – plus the English Language thing not to forget to mention his inter-faith and global climate work. All forward-looking and relevant global agenda.

      The EU needs its head looked at!

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        DC, not David Cameron are you ;0)?

        I got 6:50. It was actually at 7:00 yesterday, but is now 5:00. I expect it to shorten again in the morning. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the third and fourth runners, though.

        Your other points are right on too. I really do not hear anyone talking of the big issues as Blair does. Even those presently in power seem fairly dumbstruck when it comes to how to LEAD. If Europe lets slip this chance for a big voice at all the big tables, we’ve really lost it.

        Don’t know about you but I am not impressed with Obama. He clearly needs someone of international experience to help him cope in this fast-moving world full of challenges. And who else is there but Blair?

        Apart from that I do think Blair retired at the height of his abilities and drive. It’d be such a waste not to use these attributes. Not to mention the experience. He will have learned a lot.

        If people think he is ready to wage warn on Iran I think they have THAT wrong too. But unlike Obama, he won’t put all his cards face-up on the table. There are ways of appealing to the moderates in Iran though, and seeing what happened recently over their election it would seem that most people in Iran are moderates.

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