Mandelson, Blair and a sordid little ploy to deny British voters a choice on the European superstate
A new and swanky European Union headquarters is being planned in Brussels at a cost of £280million. Named the Residence Palace, it will contain the no doubt sumptuous offices of the first President of the EU, as well as of its first Foreign Minister.
The man who hopes to become President of Europe is none other than our own Tony Blair.
According to an authoritative new book, the sole remaining raison d'etre of this Government is to see Mr Blair safely installed as President, picking up the telephone as Europe's number one politician to chew the cud on equal terms with Barack Obama.
Political journalist Adam Boulton says Lord Mandelson is propping up Gordon Brown only so that his friend Tony Blair can become President of Europe
The book is by the political journalist Adam Boulton, a New Labour insider married to Anji Hunter, a former close aide of Mr Blair's. If anyone has worthwhile insights into what is going on in the ex-Prime Minister's mind, it is Mr Boulton. He says Lord Mandelson is propping up Gordon Brown only so that his friend Tony Blair can become President of Europe.
What we have here is a nasty little plot, chiefly orchestrated by Lord Mandelson, whose overwhelming purpose is to see the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and, if at all possible, secure the coronation of Tony Blair as President. Even the timing of the General Election is part of the plot.
This is how it works. In less than two weeks, on October 2, the Irish will vote on the Lisbon Treaty. In June last year, they voted against it. That was not what Brussels wanted, since until the treaty is ratified by all member states, it cannot become law and there can be no European President, no European Foreign Minister and no other integrationist measures.
Which is why the Irish are being made to vote again. So much for democracy! This time they are expected to say 'Yes'. Battered by a recession far worse even than ours, and in dire need of financial support from other member states, they are unlikely to stand up to Europe this time.
Once Ireland has approved the Lisbon Treaty, the last major impediment to its ratification will have been removed. However, there is one final wisp of hope for those who want to stop the EU juggernaut.
Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, does not like the treaty, and has so far resisted signing it, though the Czech parliament has passed it. He and his country, though, are certain to come under enormous pressure. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, has just warned Prague that it faces 'consequences' if it does not swiftly follow an Irish 'Yes' with its own ratification.
So all that lies between the British people and a further, possibly decisive, lurch towards European integration are the Irish, who are almost certain to disappoint, and the President of the Czech Republic, who seems quite unlikely to hold out. A few very hopeful souls also place hope in the Polish President, who has also not yet signed the treaty, but that seems an even longer shot.
An ICM poll for yesterday's Sunday Telegraph meanwhile suggests that 70 per cent of British voters want a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - refused by this Government, despite its earlier promise to hold one on the very similar European Constitution - if the Tories win the next election.
The trouble is that once the treaty has been ratified, it will be difficult for the Tories to unpick it, as it will have become part of European law accepted by every member state.
The reason Lord Mandelson wants the General Election to be held next June, which is the latest possible date, is not because he seriously believes that Gordon Brown has an earthly chance of winning by leaving it until then. He would like to provide as much time as possible for the treaty to be
ratified before David Cameron arrives in No 10.
Yesterday's ICM poll only confirms what we already knew - that most people want a referendum on the treaty because they oppose further integration. That, of course, is why the Government does not wish to give us a referendum. Gordon Brown bangs on about listening to the people, but when the people want something he does not approve of, he closes his mind and ears, and carries on regardless.
The Tories are admittedly in a difficult position for the reason I have mentioned. How could they renege on a treaty which had already been ratified, forming the new legal basis of the European Union? They could hardly deny the legitimacy of the President of Europe, be it Tony Blair or anyone else, or pretend that he did not exist.
That said, their present position is a potentially weak one. Their policy is to hope against hope that President Klaus, or conceivably the Polish President, will hold out until June and a Tory victory in the
General Election. In that case, there would be a referendum which would almost certainly lead to a 'No' vote, and the Lisbon Treaty would come crashing down across Europe. Unlike Ireland, Britain is too big and important a country for its people to be forced by Brussels to vote again.
But this is to leave too much to chance. The Czechs and the Poles are unlikely to stand firm against bullying and intimidation. It is not good enough for the Tories to say cryptically that, in the circumstances of the treaty having already been ratified when they came to power, they would not 'stand idly by'.
That is too vague. If it becomes necessary, a new Conservative government should hold a referendum on Lisbon and, if that led to a rejection of the treaty, insist on its renegotiation. Anything less would be a betrayal of the British people, who have been cheated by this Government.
The most arresting finding in yesterday's ICM poll is that 40 per cent of voters want Britain to leave the European Union. Such disenchantment, virtually unprecedented on this scale, largely arises from the widespread perception that European integration has been progressively imposed on this country without its citizens ever having a say. All the lies and half truths and obfuscations have created a sense of bad faith wherever Europe is concerned.
As it happens, I don't think it would be in the best commercial interests of this country to withdraw from Europe. But withdrawal may well be the ultimate outcome if democracy continues to be so openly flouted.
David Cameron and William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, can reasonably argue that voters must be consulted over Lisbon if our membership of the European Union is to command widespread consent.
What a sordid, undemocratic racket this supposedly noble European project has become.
Our real concern should not be whether Tony Blair becomes the first President of Europe, with Lord Mandelson's snout no doubt deeply embedded in a neighbouring trough. The most important issue is whether there should be a European President and a Lisbon Treaty at all - and, to that prospect, the overwhelming verdict of the British people would appear to be a resounding 'No'
COMMENT: There are two strands to this story. Mandelson is the arch-Blairite and it is possibly his commitment to Blair that motivates him in getting the Lisbon Treaty activated. On the other hand he is obliged under the terms of his EU pension to support the EU’s policies so that may be why he was placed where he is!
As a privy counsellor what he is up to surely amounts to treason?
The book’s author is no Blairite: “Sanctimonious, self-serving, high handed” - This is Adam Boulton's alternative view of Blair. I’m not arguing with that!