First Published: 2009-11-20

Iraq war curse deals final blow to Blair's EU bid

Palestinian protester brands former British PM as 'terrorist' during his visit to West Bank.


Middle East Online

Iraqis are still paying the price of WMD lies and others

LONDON - Former British premier Tony Blair took a blow after being rejected as EU president, mainly due to his stained reputation after supporting and taking part in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The 56-year-old was at one stage frontrunner for the new European Union job, but was dropped in favour of low-profile Belgian premier Herman van Rompuy, chosen for the new EU job in Brussels on Thursday night.

Blair had left Downing Street in June 2007, but he earns handsome sums from clients including JP Morgan Chase and Zurich Financial, and commands huge fees on the global lecture circuit.

Not to mention his consultancy Tony Blair Associates (TBA), or his memoirs, which could be published as early as next year, if as expected his successor as British premier Gordon Brown is ousted in elections due by June.

All of which helps pay for the huge outgoings he and wife Cherie have taken on since leaving office -- including a vast mortgage on their main London home, bought for four million pounds (4.4 million euros, 6.6 million dollars) at the height of the global property boom.

Critics said the EU rejection was a payback for Blair's divisive role over the 2003 Iraq war, in which he backed US president George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, splitting Europe down the middle.

The Times' political editor Philip Webster said Blair was the "big loser" of the horse-trading for the EU top jobs, which saw little-known figures named EU president and foreign policy chief.

"Yesterday was the day that his past caught up with him. His alliance with George Bush in the prosecution of the Iraq war was deeply unpopular with most EU countries," he wrote.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian protester confronted the former British Prime Minister on Tuesday as Blair visited the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron.

Blair currently serves as Middle East peace envoy for the Quartet of the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

His appointment has been criticized for his record in office, which includes launching the invasion of Iraq along with Bush.

As Blair toured a Hebron mosque, the protester approached him and called him a “terrorist.”


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