„I can tell them that when he goes off to a major political conference of a centre-right party and simultaneously refers to himself as a socialist, he is on manoeuvres“
— William Hague
Context: To see how the post of a permanent President of the European Council could evolve is not difficult even for the humblest student of politics, and it is, of course, rumoured that one Tony Blair may be interested in the job. Now, if that makes us uncomfortable on these benches, just imagine how it is viewed in Downing Street! I must warn Ministers opposite that having tangled with Tony Blair across this Dispatch Box on literally hundreds of occasions, I know his mind almost as well as they do. I can tell them that when he goes off to a major political conference of a centre-right party and simultaneously refers to himself as a socialist, he is on manoeuvres, and is busily building coalitions as only he can. We can all picture the scene at a European Council sometime next year. Picture the face of our poor Prime Minister as the name of "Blair" is nominated by one President and Prime Minister after another: the look of utter gloom on his face at the nauseating, glutinous praise oozing from every Head of Government, the rapid revelation of a majority view, agreed behind closed doors when he, as usual, was excluded. Never would he regret more no longer being in possession of a veto: the famous dropped jaw almost hitting the table, as he realises there is no option but to join in. And then the awful moment when the motorcade of the President of Europe sweeps into Downing Street. With gritted teeth and bitten nails: the Prime Minister emerging from his door with a smile of intolerable anguish; the choking sensation as the words, "Mr President", are forced from his mouth. And then, once in the Cabinet room, the melodrama of, "When will you hand over to me?" all over again. Hansard http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080121/debtext/80121-0012.htm, 21 Jan 2008, House of Commons: Column 1261-1263.