An interesting piece in the Times this morning from William Rees-Mogg reminds us that Justice Secretary Jack Straw is to introduce an amendment which allows life peers to resign from the House of Lords (it was also reported in the FT a few weeks ago). This would allow Lord Mandelson to resign his peerage, stand for the Commons at the next election (Hilary Armstrong's seat in North-West Durham?) and therefore qualify for the Labour leadership should Gordon Brown stand down after the election.
Far fetched? Maybe so, but it's mouth-watering for the Euro-integrationists in Brussels.
He is after all strongly pro-Lisbon and strongly pro-euro - far more so than Brown. Back in December, shortly after Mandy's third-time-lucky-reappearance on the British political scene, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso let slip that Britain was "closer than ever" to joining the Euro and that the "people who matter in Britain" were thinking about joining the single currency. (Clue: he wasn't talking about those plebs the great British public).
In separate (but worringly related) news, a new YouGov poll for the Sunday Times shows opposition to the idea of President Blair remains strong.
Voters were asked:
"The Government is backing Tony Blair to be president of the European Union. What is your view of this?"
24% agreed with the statement, "I agree with it and I think it will be good for Britain"
54% agreed with the statement, "I don't agree with it - it will mainly be of benefit to Tony Blair."
19% said they didn't know.
The bad news is that, while we might still have a choice over who runs our country (no thanks, Mandy) we haven't got the slightest influence over who will become the first all-powerful EU President if Ireland votes 'yes' and the Lisbon Treaty comes into force.
It won't even matter much if it's Gordon Brown, David Cameron or Peter Mandelson representing us in October's Council (when the nominations are set to be made), since even our own Prime Minister won't have a veto over the preferred candidate (Blair or whoever becomes President will be nominated by a qualified majority vote).
As we've argued before, the only way to stop political has-beens from bagging the most high-profile and best-paid job in Europe is to put a stop to the Lisbon Treaty, so the daft job never sees the light of day in the first place.