Gordon Brown to 'buy off' Germany and France to get President Blair
The Prime Minister is now actively campaigning for Mr Blair to get the post.
Number 10 believes that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, will add her support to the move if she is allowed to choose a German for the other new role created by the Lisbon Treaty, the high representative for foreign affairs.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, would be offered the chance to select a politician to take on one of the top economic portfolios, possibly the EU trade commissioner's role currently held by Britain.
A senior Number 10 official said: “We believe the French and Germans are holding out for the best possible deal they can get out of this situation. But we think Merkel will agree if she gets the foreign job [to give to her choice] and Sarkozy will also be after a significant position.”
Mrs Merkel has until now been noticeably cool on the prospect of Mr Blair getting the presidency.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has been at the forefront of a change of policy regarding Mr Blair’s ambitions this week. He has begun to lobby hard for his appointment with a series of statements urging EU leaders to grasp the nettle and allow the big figure like Mr Blair who could “stop the traffic” in Washington and Beijing, to take on the role.
That intervention was mocked by David Cameron yesterday who said Europe should be looking at politicians who can get the traffic moving, not stopped.
The horse trading with Germany and France risks backfiring however. It is likely to antagonise the smaller EU nations who fear a secret deal between the three biggest EU countries.
Downing Street sources have confirmed that tomorrow’s meeting of EU heads of government will not discuss the role of president. However, there is certain to be behind-the-scenes negotiating regarding Mr Blair’s possible elevation.
Yesterday, Mr Cameron issued his strongest statement Mr Blair’s campaign by saying the last thing Europe needs is the “all-acting” former prime minister at its head. The Conservative leader warned European leaders against selecting Mr Blair, but admitted that he may be forced to work “reasonably” with him if he is chosen.
Mr Cameron said he was squarely against the role of president. However he said if there had to be one it should not be “El Presidente Blair.”
Instead the role should be taken by someone who was a chairman rather than some “all-singing, all-dancing, all-acting president.”
The Conservatives have warned European leaders that they will view it as “a hostile act” if the former Labour prime minister is handed the job.
Yesterday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and a leading European federalist, became the first leader to declare himself a candidate for the presidency. Mr Blair has yet to formally say he wants the job and is under increasing pressure to do so.
Mr Juncker used an interview in Le Monde to deride Mr Blair’s claims to the job, suggesting the former British premier was too divisive to speak for Europe.
He said: “I can't really identify any area in which Britain has shown real European inspiration over the past 10 years, apart from a few advances on defence."
Luxembourg has united with Belgium and the Netherlands to oppose Mr Blair as president. Austria is also understood to be opposing the former prime minister.
Last night Peter Kilfoyle, who was a Labour minister under Tony Blair, tabled a Commons motion saying the former prime minister is "wholly unsuitable to be President of the European Union."
The motion also rebukes David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, as "both wrong and unwise" to promote Mr Blair's candidacy.
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