SNP MEP Horror At Tony Blair Nomination

15 July 2009
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) reacted with astonishment to reports that the UK government favours former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as the UK nominee to the Presidency of the European Council, should the Lisbon Treaty come into effect.

Minister for Europe Glenys Kinnock today in Strasbourg apparently confirmed that the UK government does favour Mr Blair for the role, though his appointment would need to be approved by all member states so his success is by no means certain.

The post of President will be created by the Lisbon Treaty, should it be approved, and would end the current practice whereby the presidency rotates every six months between the member states. The actual role and powers of the permanent post, however, is extremely poorly defined.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Smith said:

"This is bad news from the London government, and highlights just why the Lisbon Treaty is a missed opportunity to reform the EU when all it will actually achieve is more confusion and the creation of self-aggrandising vanity sinecures like this.

"The fact that it comes as the other side of the Westminster coin, the Tory party, have sidelined themselves so comprehensively to the sidelines in a group already showing signs of extreme strain, being criticised by the Prime Minister of Sweden even this morning in a debate here.

"For the London government to be even contemplating the deeply, deeply compromised Tony Blair as nominee is a massive mistake. Folk in Brussels have long memories, and the UK Presidency a few years back is still well-remembered as classic Blair showmanship: a great speech at the start, followed by six months of nothing much. People across Europe will also well remember his role as the chief European cheerleader for the disastrous and illegal war in Iraq.

"It also takes a lot for granted. The Lisbon Treaty is not in effect, and it is not certain that the Irish will vote yes. The SNP opposes the treaty, because where the EU needs fundamental reform, the Lisbon Treaty will not achieve it. While ending the rotating presidency has merit, replacing it with a vanity sinecure like this risks making the EU even further from the people."