LONDON: Former British prime minister Tony Blair was on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) to call for a shake-up of the European Union following the dramatic gains made by eurosceptic parties in last week’s EU-wide elections.
In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Blair was to call the victories of the UK Independence Party and the National Front in France a “wake-up call,” according to extracts published in The Times.
The results reveal that voters feel “deep anxiety, distrust and alienation from the institutions and key philosophy of Europe”, he was to say in the keynote London speech.
“The election of parties across the continent on explicitly ‘anti-the-status-quo in Europe’ platforms signify something. They cannot be ignored,” Blair will stress.
“The election results matter. They are a wake-up call to Europe and to Britain. Our response in Europe, as in Britain, should be to lead, not follow,” he will say.
Current Prime Minister David Cameron has promised Britons an in-out referendum on its membership of the EU if his Conservative Party wins next year’s general election.
According to German news reports, Cameron has warned that his country could leave the European Union if Jean-Claude Juncker is elected as president of the executive European Commission, by virtue of leading the grouping that gained most votes in the parliamentary elections.
Cameron is vehemently op–posed to Juncker’s federalism and reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that “a figure from the 80s cannot resolve the problems of the next five years.”
The British leader is calling for the president of the Union’s civil service to be decided by national leaders instead.
Juncker responded by accusing Cameron of “blackmailing” European leaders.