Could you really stomach Blair being EU president?

As Cherie admits to doubts about the decision to go to war with Iraq, Tony Blair's European support is beginning to falter

Many hold him responsible for "war crimes" in Iraq, while others think he is only interested in piling up a vast fortune from speaking engagements and property. But there are still some in Europe who believe Tony Blair should be anointed as the first President of the EU this month. Last week, Mr Blair was in Canada posing for pictures at £180 a time. On Friday, he attended the commemoration at St Paul's for the soldiers who died in the Iraq war. This Tuesday, he will face more raw anger from families of soldiers when the first independent and public inquiry into the war begins in London.

The former prime minister will come under the scrutiny of the Chilcot Inquiry into the six-year campaign as he lobbies for votes in Europe to be the EU's first president. To make matters worse, his wife Cherie yesterday said the Iraq war was a "51-49" decision, adding that Mr Blair had been very good at "convincing everybody else that it was a 70-30 decision".

As emotions continued to run high at home, doubts surfaced in mainland Europe that enough of the 27 member states would have the stomach to choose Mr Blair as their president – with a salary of £247,000.

Sir John Chilcot, who is chairing the inquiry, will open the hearings on Tuesday by taking evidence from soldiers' families, including those of the 179 troops who died in the war. Mr Blair will give evidence at a later date – when he is expected to find his controversial decision to wage a war in the face of widespread opposition at home laid bare.

It follows the angry confrontation Mr Blair experienced at the commemoration at St Paul's on Friday, when the father of one dead soldier refused to shake his hand because he had "my son's blood on your hands".

Yesterday, Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun died in March 2003 in the run-up to the invasion, said that Mr Blair "went white" when he refused to shake his hand.

The powerful and grief-stricken criticism from Mr Brierley highlights how, nearly seven years on from the invasion, Mr Blair cannot escape his role in the Iraq war which also cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilians.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking at the service, also attacked Mr Blair for failing to consider the human cost of his decisions. And, in a sign that he recognises that he is a toxic and controversial figure across Europe because of Iraq, Mr Blair has deliberately played down his candidacy. His office does not even confirm that he is in the running.

A summit to agree on the appointment will be held at the end of this month – when the Chilcot hearings will be well under way. If there is no agreement, there is another chance in December to choose a president.

It emerged last night that despite President Nicolas Sarkozy of France coming round to the idea of a Blair presidency, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who was expected to follow suit, is now believed to prefer the candidacy of Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch Prime Minister.

A diplomatic source said Ms Merkel would not actively prevent Mr Blair becoming EU president if there was a growing consensus for his candidacy, but she thinks Mr Balkenende is a "good candidate". Poland and Spain are also wary of Mr Blair becoming president. Other possible candidates include former Spanish premier Felipe Gonzalez and the ex-Finnish premier, Paavo Lipponen. The total package for the post is estimated at £3.5m over two consecutive terms of two and a half years, including salary, accommodation and expenses. Mr Blair already costs British taxpayers £2m for security.

A BPIX poll for the Daily Mail found that 47 per cent of Britons are opposed to Mr Blair becoming president, while 35 per cent would support him.

The Polish President yesterday ratified the Lisbon Treaty, the reform charter that created the post of president of the European Council of heads of state (or EU president). The Czech Republic alone is still to ratify the treaty.

Further details of the families appearing before the Chilcot Inquiry had not been released by last night.

Do you think Tony Blair deserves to become the first President of the European Union? Or should another candidate fill this handsomely rewarded post? Let us know at: sundayletters@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game