Blair 'happy to be out of race for Europe job'

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair will not seek another big international job after being rejected for the new post of "President of Europe", his allies said yesterday.

Close friends of the former prime minister said he was "entirely happy" with his current roles – lucrative public speaking engagements, working as the international Middle East peace envoy, bringing democracy to Africa, tackling climate change, and heading an inter-faith foundation and sports charity.

They said Mr Blair had cooled on the idea of becoming President of the European Council after it became clear that the 27 EU leaders were looking for a chairman rather than a figurehead to represent the continent on the global stage. "In the end, he was genuinely divided about whether to go for it," one ally said. "The final job description wasn't right for him. He is relieved to be out of it. He is doing a lot of good things; he is up and happy."

Although Mr Blair is said to believe he has "one more big job" in him, friends denied he would seek a role at another international body such as the United Nations or the World Bank.

But his biographer Anthony Seldon believes Mr Blair may yet return to public office. Writing in Prospect magazine, he said: "Losing the presidency will only whet his appetite further for another big international role. If anything he is more hungry for influence than in 2007."

Seldon said Mr Blair believes the EU needs a "big hitter," such as himself, to reach its potential.

"He will surely be disappointed that many of his friends in Europe, and a number of fellow countrymen, didn't do more for his cause. He has an especially jaundiced view of the Conservatives' tribalism in not backing him."

Although Mr Blair does some speeches without being paid, his earnings have been estimated at up to £15m since he left office in 2007.