Tony Blair felt humiliated when his candidacy to become President of the European Union was rejected.
According to newly discovered documents, Tony Blair’s ambition to become the full-time President of the European Council was met with fierce opposition in Spain and Sweden.
Tonight at 9pm on BBC Two, the documentary ‘Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution’ follows the development of the two MPs before they became leaders of the Labour Party. Tony Blair rose to power in 1997 and served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom until 2007. He was followed by Gordon Brown, who led Labour into the 2010 general election, where David Cameron’s Conservative Party was able to unseat Labour from the White House. During his time in power, Mr Blair headed a liberal, internationalist government, which bolstered his credentials for a high role in Brussels.
Mr Blair met with some of his closest allies in 2008 to consider how he could run for full-time president of the European Council, a position called “president of the EU” at the time.
Although he had the support of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, other countries were wary of Mr Blair playing such a prominent position in the EU.
Spain and Sweden, according to the Guardian, were against Mr Blair’s candidacy in 2009.
Senior officials in Stockholm, which had recently taken over the EU’s rotating presidency for six months, expressed concern that a President Blair would be divisive, causing friction between small and large European countries.
The Spanish prime minister at the time, José Luis Rodrguez Zapatero, was even more hostile to Mr Blair gaining the role and usurping Madrid’s control of the union the next year.
In 2009, Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister, stated unequivocally that he did not want Mr Blair to be re-elected, without naming the former Prime Minister by name.
“The small nations don’t want a strong leader because they’re afraid he’ll be dominated by the big [EU] countries,” Mr Reinfeldt said at the time.
Sweden’s prime minister went on to say that Europe must determine whether the president should be “a strong leader for Europe” or whether his function should be confined to chairing EU meetings and “not placing the [European] Commission president in the shadow.”
While French President Nicolas Sarkozy backed Mr Blair, it became clear that German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Mr Blair’s candidacy. “Brinkwire News Summary.”