Jane Merrick is the Political Editor of the Independent on Sunday. She has been a political journalist for seven years, previously working at the Press Association and the Daily Mail
Boris Johnson writes today that Tony Blair will not become EU president because he is too much of an Atlanticist and a defender of the Anglo-Saxon market economy. He's willing to bet any reader £5 that he's right.
I think Boris is right - but also because Blair is too charismatic for Europeans. Yes, Sarkozy came round to the idea a few months ago after initial reticence, and he, like Merkel will be able to shape the outcome more than other EU leaders. But the Blair story will continue for the next few weeks, and it will become too toxic for many leaders.
Former Spanish PM Felipe Gonzalez is said to be a write-off because he is not fluent in English. I reckon Boris should stick his £5 on Paavo Lipponen, the former Finnish PM who at the moment is about 7-1. Lipponen, like Blair, supported the Iraq war and this contributed to him being voted out of office in 2003, but unlike Blair the association does not haunt him six and a half years on.
PL is fluent in English and is well respected in Europe. He was PM for 11 years and before becoming an MP was a party official specialising in foreign relations for the social democrat party.
In Helsinki, he is seen as a "grumpy old man" but was also regarded as a "grumpy young man" when he was younger. He played water polo until recently and swims daily all year round. Like Blair, he is writing his memoirs. My Helsinki source says: "He is not as charming as TB but has far more substance than appearance." A Finnish Gordon Brown then. They even looked alike when they were younger. A bit. Probably right for a job like president of the EU Council.