There are only a few of the Tory front-bench who don’t induce waves of nausea in me. William Hague is one of them. And he seems to be part of a cunning plan.
Clearly, for the Tories the least worst option of the credible candidates for EU President is our very own Tony Blair. But they can’t be seen to support him. Domestically, this would be seen as endorsing the opposition ahead of an election. But the Tories have few friends in Europe, as David Miliband has taken to reminding us on a daily basis. Since the Americans are reportedly not very impressed either, Hague will be “Foreign Secretary William No-mates” if his party does win next year’s election. Perhaps he started pondering after reading that Berlusconi’s support “could prove a fatal blow to the Blair cause”.
Yeap, given the Tories’ reputation with the people who matter in Europe, urging them not to support Blair would definitely help his candidacy.
Of course, it would all work better if Downing Street played along…
Maybe the whole operation was dreamt up by a wily civil servant. I can picture the scene in the New Year:
“Good result on the EU Presidency! UK 1, Franco-German axis 0, eh?”
“Yes, Prime Minister.”