Blair: My frustration over EU dilemma

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair has predicted that the European Union will become "stronger and more integrated" despite its crises last year.

But he warned the EU it must "be global or fail" and would have to concentrate on bread-and-butter issues to win public support for closer co-operation among member states.

In an unusually personal speech, Mr Blair revealed his frustration at being portrayed in Britain as facing either "isolation or treason" over EU talks. "The dilemma of a British prime minister over Europe is acute to the point of the ridiculous. Basically you have a choice: co-operate in Europe and you betray Britain; be unreasonable in Europe, be praised back home, and be utterly without influence in Europe," he said.

Speaking at Oxford University, Mr Blair struck a surprisingly upbeat note about the EU's future despite the heated arguments over the constitution and budget last year. He hailed an emerging consensus among a new generation of European leaders.