The Sketch: Blair burns bright, like an imploding star

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The Independent Online

The brilliance of Blair is brighter than ever in this, his long decline. Perhaps, like a star before it dies, he is flaring gloriously.

Everything he campaigned for in Europe has been repudiated by his friends. He has been deceived and betrayed by his allies. His enemies have been vindicated. His contradictions have caught up with him. His plans, strategies, undertakings, reforms have been turned into rubbish. His big tent has collapsed. Chaos reigns. He emerges as the only person capable of leading us forward. Astonishing.

You might think that Tories are now in the ascendant? That their arguments will prevail? Tony is using their language and saying the same things they are saying. And what astonishing things they are: "It simply does not make sense in this new world for Europe to spend over 40 per cent of its budget on the CAP, representing 5 per cent of the EU population producing less than 2 per cent of the EU's output."

That little nugget is a clot of blood in the heart of Europe.

No, he's saying things a foam-flecked John Redwood might say: Europe's credibility depends on "the right deal", for instance, "Not the usual, cobbled-together compromise in the early hours of the morning ... "

He might as well have said: "Qualified majority voting would have passed the motion that Jean-Claude Juncker is a complete twat."

He wants "a fundamental review of the EU budget" he wants "to alter fundamentally the structure of the budget". Blimey! Samson fingers the pillars in the temple and gives them an experimental push. He also said the Luxembourg proposal was "expressed in language so vague as to be meaningless". That is the judgement of our most refined connoisseur of meaninglessness.

He says he wants to reorder the European budget to bring trade justice to Africa. Let us sink to our knees and thank him for that. The EU helped open up African markets to world competition. Then they gave their own farmers more per cow than in aid to hungry Africans.

Then they shipped over the surpluses created by these subsidies into the open African market, crushing local prices and putting farmers out of business. Then ... Tony Blair put his signature to a treaty confirming these arrangements of the Common Agricultural Policy for another 10 years.

"If we don't agree this reform process it will be 2014 before we can make changes to the CAP," he cried indignantly. He seemed to mean that like it was a bad thing.

He got a welcome to the sceptics' corner, at last. But Tories are still wrong, in his view, because even if they're right they're wrong. They're saying the right things for the wrong reasons.

But then what does that mean for Mr Blair and CAP reform? He's doing the right thing for reasons that are so obscure they can't be creditable.

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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