I’ve been tipping Tony Blair to be the first "president of Europe" since 2002 – when the creation of the job was just a twinkle in his eye – so I’m delighted the former PM is taking soundings about whether the post will be worthy of his political talents. No doubting his self-confidence, is there?
Back in 2002 I remember being told that Mr Blair thought the creation of a full-time president of the European Council – the supreme body of the EU – was the most important thing to get written into the new EU constitution, now rebranded the Treaty of Lisbon.
What’s more aides to the PM told me over a coffee in Strasbourg that this was a job in which he had "a keen personal interest". The story I wrote off the back of this briefing spawned a brilliant follow-up by Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun, who wrote Mr Blair would be a Napoleonic figure, living in a huge (yet to be built) presidential palace.
I always had my doubts whether a former British PM would get the job, simply because I couldn’t imagine a French president agreeing to let a Brit stride around the world stage speaking for Europe. But since Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be almost as much in love with TB as he is with Carla Bruni, that no longer seems a problem.
If Silvio Berlusconi (Mr Blair’s old holiday pal) gets back into power in Italy, consider it a done deal – if Mr Blair wants ths job.
He apparently wants to know exactly what it entails. Will it be simply to act as a messenger boy for the EU’s 27 leaders on the off-chance they can agree a common position. Or will he have real clout in areas such as trade and foreign policy?
It seems to me that the first person to hold the job (which could be created in 2009) will define the job. If it’s Tony Blair it will be a big job; if it’s Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister, I suspect it will be a smaller one.
Will Gordon Brown accept it? I can’t imagine a British PM blocking a British candidate for such a job and – in any case – I hear suggestions the two old rivals are getting along better these days.
What about Cherie? She would obviously like Tony to rake in a few more millions, but by 2009 he’ll already be well on his way to his first £10m thanks to a book deal and various banking jobs. Being president of Europe is unlikely to lower his future earnings potential.
So go for it Tony. You might finally be able to do what you signally failed to do while in Number 10 – explain to the British public what is the point of our membership of the EU. And I’ll be able to rip out that old story from my 2002 cuttings book and say that I told you so.