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Blair feared Chirac was ‘out to get him’

Published on 26/01/2004

LONDON, Jan 26 (AFP) - Tony Blair believed that Jacques Chirac was "out to get him" ahead of the Iraq war, because the French leader feared Britain's prime minister was usurping his own position as the natural leader of Europe, the Financial Times (FT) newspaper reported Monday.

According to a new biography of Blair, written by FT journalist Philip Stephens, Blair, at odds with Chirac over Iraq, came to the opinion that the French president was intent on “ruining him personally and wanted to see him fall from power”.

Blair’s fears were partly based on British intelligence reports based on Chirac’s private conversations, Stephens wrote in the paper.

 “Blair came to believe, partly on the basis of reports from British intelligence, that the dispute over Iraq was in fact a proxy for a much more serious contest.

“Chirac, these reports said, had decided that Blair had usurped his own position as the natural leader of Europe. It was time for the French president to reassert himself and to clip the wings of perfidious Albion.”

Unsurprisingly, French officials dismissed this analysis. But Blair came to believe it, telling close aides that Chirac was ‘out to get him’,” the paper said.

Stephens went on to say that it was “exquisite irony” that Chirac “did more than anyone” to rescue Blair who was struggling domestically to make the case for war in Iraq.

“When Chirac declared on March 10 that France would veto any attempt to pass a second resolution at the UN, he unwittingly gave Blair the excuse he needed to go to war without further UN authorisation.”


                                Subject: France news