Blair to be named EU President 'within weeks' if Irish ratify Lisbon Treaty
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:02 PM on 01st October 2009
Pole position: Tony Blair is set to become EU President within weeks if Ireland votes 'Yes' in its referendum on the Lisbon Treaty tomorrow
Tony Blair is set to become EU President within weeks if Ireland votes 'Yes' in its referendum on the Lisbon Treaty tomorrow.
The former prime minister's candidacy for the new post will be rushed through as quickly as possible, according to government sources.
Mr Blair is among the favourites to become the first President of the European Union, a role that is chosen by the EU's 27 leaders and not by voters.
Such an appointment would restore him to the world stage as well as boost his long-term income.
Mr Blair has refused to rule himself in or out of the running, but did say that 'it is good to have fans' for a possible candidacy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has given his full support to a Blair bid. When French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner was asked yesterday if Mr Blair was the only real candidate, he said: 'For the moment, indeed.'
The post of President cannot exist until the Lisbon Treaty is formally ratified by all member states and officials across Europe would scramble to move forward this weekend if Ireland votes 'Yes' on Friday.
Yesterday Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen ruled out a third referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if the controversial charter is rejected again.
As both sides in the debate made their final pleas to voters Mr Cowen warned a second and final defeat would plunge the EU into uncertainty.
'Well there won't be a Lisbon III, I think that's for sure,' Mr Cowen said.
Leading the charge for the yes camp with just one full day to go until polling, the Taoiseach claimed the vote was one of the most important political decisions of our time.
Divided: 'Yes' campaigners make their point on the Lisbon Treaty after it was first rejected last year
Crunch vote: Opposition campaigners post a message in Dublin against tomorrow's vote on the Lisbon Treaty
He said Ireland faced the prospect of a two-tier Europe if the complex charter was thrown out for a second time.
'I think what's clear is that we face into a period of extraordinary uncertainty in Europe, for Europe, and what direction it would then take,' the Taoiseach said.
'We could well see the development of a two-speed Europe.'
Pro and anti-treaty groups staged separate events throughout the day in a last ditch intensive effort to woo voters before the traditional broadcasting ban came into force at midnight.
The latest opinion poll taken last weekend gave the yes side a commanding lead, with half of all voters suggesting they would back the reform package.
Defaced: Posters for both the pro and anti campaigners have been daubed in graffiti or covered in stickers
Backing: Former Irish rugby player Denis Hickie, left, film director Jim Sheridan, Pat Cox and director Neil Jordan, who support the treaty, pose for a photo
Sinn Fein - the only Dail party to oppose the treaty - said rejecting the charter would secure a more democratic EU.
Leader Gerry Adams said: 'Citizens want a fairer Ireland, a fairer Europe, a democratic Ireland, a democratic Europe.
'If we want to have decency and accountability and if we want a social Europe then come out ... and vote no.'
All of Europe will be watching the Irish vote. Sweden, which chairs the bloc this year, wants a president named by the end of this month.
The only real obstacle in Mr Blair's path is if Poland and the Czech Republic delay their own ratification of the Treaty.
The Tories claim that the two countries could take up to six months to do so, creating the possibility that a Cameron government could also block Mr Blair's candidacy.
Senior Conservative sources today said that the Tory leader would 'definitely oppose' Mr Blair's bid for the job. The party is determined not to have the former Labour leader hovering over a Cameron administration and possibly exposing problems with its European policy.
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