Blair campaign will continue, No 10 insists

By Alex Stevenson

Gordon Brown’s efforts to campaign for Tony Blair’s potential presidency of the European Commission will continue, No 10 has insisted, despite momentum moving away from the former prime minister.

Last week was dominated by speculation that Mr Blair might mount a bid to become Europe’s president if the Lisbon treaty is finally ratified by all 27 member states.

Downing Street was initially hesitant about whether it would lobby on Mr Blair’s behalf at the council of ministers’ summit on Thursday and Friday, but eventually admitted discussions were taking place on the margins in Brussels as Mr Brown was “very supportive” of his predecessor.

A lack of support from European socialist parties appears to have hampered Mr Blair’s chances and No 10 acknowledged on Friday there was a “clear possibility” the bid could fail, however.

The prime minister’s spokesman was upbeat this morning, however. “If Tony Blair wishes to be a candidate the prime minister is four, if not five-square behind him,” he said.

With Mr Blair’s hopes fading those of foreign secretary David Miliband to assume the high representative post, described as that of a European foreign minister, are raised.

Mr Miliband has repeatedly denied interest in the role, however. No 10 said reports that it was lobbying for the foreign secretary were “inaccurate”.