Tony Blair’s interview in yesterday’s Times deserves to be widely read on both sides of the Atlantic. Why? Because it shows that the Eurofederalists’ delusions of grandeur are firmly alive and remain a huge threat not only to British national sovereignty but the future of the transatlantic alliance, especially the Special Relationship. It is also a further demonstration of just how far removed Tony Blair is from political reality and public opinion in the UK, but that’s never stopped him before.
Blair has always been a European idealist at heart, even though he found out the hard way during the Iraq War that you can’t be both America’s best friend and ally and cosy up to Brussels at the same time. Over Iraq Blair found himself isolated among the ruling elites of Old Europe, especially with Germany and France, and at odds with the leadership of the European Union. He took the right decision to go to war to remove Saddam Hussein but was scorned by the EU establishment. Despite all this, he still remains wedded to the idea that Britain must be at the heart of a federal Europe, and believes that London should be at the forefront of driving the process of further European integration.
In his interview with The Times, the former prime minister calls for an elected president of the European Union, selected by an electorate of nearly 400 million people, which “would give the EU clear leadership and enormous authority on the world stage.” It is essential for Europe to have “strong, collective leadership and direction.” This is necessary, Blair believes, because “we won’t have the weight and influence a country like Britain needs unless we’re part of that European power as well.”
Significantly, his grand scheme is all about “power, not peace”, with a muscular Brussels supposedly taking on the rising ’superpower’ in Beijing:
“In a world in particular in which China is going to become the dominant power of the 21st century, it is sensible for Europe to combine together, to use its collective weight in order to achieve influence. And the rationale for Europe today therefore is about power, not peace.”
In all but name, Blair is urging the creation of a European superstate, a rival power to both the United States and China, one where national sovereignty is pooled in several key areas, including defence and foreign policy, immigration and organised crime, tax policy, and energy. The foundations for much of this have already been laid by the Treaty of Lisbon, but Blair’s vision takes the European project considerably further, especially in the area of tax harmonisation and defence.
Blair himself admits that there is little chance of his idea of an elected president being embraced at home at this moment (a position that he no doubt wishes to fill himself), but insists that this is the path that Britain and Europe must ultimately take. And there can be little doubt that his dream of a politically and economically unified EU is shared by many other leaders across Europe who remain wedded to the concept of ever closer union, despite the crisis in the Eurozone, and the irrelevance of Brussels over Libya.
While Blair’s words may sound like a pipe dream, the defenders of sovereignty and freedom in Britain and across the European continent should remain on their guard. For as we have seen so many times in the past, European national leaders, including in London, have made concession after concession as national sovereignty has been eroded treaty by treaty, overwhelmingly without popular consent. Who would have thought two decades ago that the EU would today have its own diplomatic corps with 7,000 staff and a budget of more than 6 billion pounds, and with the tacit acceptance of a Conservative-led Coalition?
Tony Blair’s vision for a European superstate is a nightmare for anyone who cares about Britain’s future as a free country governed by its own elected representatives, and must be actively fought by this government and the next, as well as by generations to come. As Lady Thatcher remarked in her final book Statecraft, “that such an unnecessary and irrational project as building a European superstate was ever embarked upon will seem in future years to be perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era.” How right she was, and Blair’s interview today only serves to reinforce the importance of that message.