STRASBOURG, France, July 16 (UPI) -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has British government support to become the first permanent president of the European Union, a spokeswoman said.
"The UK government is supporting Tony Blair's candidature," Glenys Kinnock, Britain's Minister for Europe, told journalists at the European Union's Strasbourg, France, Parliament.
She said that Blair had the "strength of character" and "status" to take on the job and that London supported him for the post "without asking him."
Blair has not publicly said he was interested in the EU presidency.
"There is nothing to be a candidate for since the job doesn't actually exist," a spokesman told the BBC.
The job will be created if all 27 EU member countries ratify the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, which would change EU workings. Twenty-six countries have ratified the treaty. Ireland is to hold a second referendum Oct. 2 after voters rejected the treaty in June 2008.
Some analysts see Blair -- currently a special Middle East envoy -- as a long shot because he might overshadow national leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Smaller EU countries also worry about the risks of having someone from a big EU power take the spot, the Journal said.
Blair also comes from a country resented in parts of the EU for opting out of some core bloc projects, including the euro common currency.
Blair also is remembered with bitterness in parts of continental Europe for siding with Washington in launching the Iraq war in 2003, EUobserver.com said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy supports Blair, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly opposes him.
A candidate thought to have broader support is Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who was the European Council president in 1997 and 2005, EUobserver said. The council is the EU's highest political body.