Cameron hits out at Blair presidency

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron has hit out at the prospect of Tony Blair becoming EU president, saying he wanted someone to take on more of a chairman’s role.

The comments reiterate deeply-held Conservative opposition to the idea, with some reports suggesting shadow foreign secretary William Hague said it would be “a hostile act” against an incoming Tory government for the EU to select him.

Mr Cameron did not deny the wording but avoided making such an strongly worded attack on the idea today.

He made clear the party did not agree with the role of EU president existing as an “emblem of statehood”, or for Mr Blair to hold the post if it did have to exist, however.

Mr Cameron’s opposition to Blair was based on his “conception of what the job involves,” he said, arguing that he did not want an “all-singing, all-dancing, all-acting president”.

“I don’t think it’s the right step forward for Britain, and I don’t think it’s the right step forward for Europe,” he continued.

“The problem Europe has is actually about political will. The rhetoric of Europe outstrips the reality of Europe.”

Mr Cameron was asked again if he would hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. He has promised a referendum if the treaty is not yet fully ratified by all member states, but is cautious on whether he would hold on if it has already been fully ratified, which is more likely to be the case by the time of the next general election.

“If it becomes clearer this treaty will be ratified, we’ll have to talk about what we’re going to do about that,” Mr Cameron said.

He added that he did not want to discourage those who are still holding out for a referendum by moving on to discuss possibilities once the treaty is ratified.

“I think I’ve been pretty straight about that,” he insisted.