Sources: Reuters, The Financial Times, ITV.com
Uttering his weary mantra at a press conference in Paris to mark “Europe Day”, Blair has once again told reporters that a “no” vote would condemn Britain to the fringes of the EU.
Then demonstrating that his ignorance of geography is at least the equal of his ignorance of history, he told French LCI television, "I think we have to say to people very clearly that to vote against this treaty... would be a serious blow to Britain's position in the centre of Europe." (Has he looked at a map recently?)
Having thus resorted to increasingly unconvincing fear tactics, Blair then vowed to defeat the "politics of fear" in the referendum. "The argument we have got to make to people in Britain”, to told bored reporters, “is that if we want to continue with the peace and prosperity we have enjoyed our place is in Europe."
And despite polls that strongly suggest otherwise, Blair told everybody who was still listening that he believed he could persuade voters to back his referendum.
Nevertheless, he has failed in his bid to get Chirac to run a French referendum. Despite his having promised one in his presidential election manifesto, Chirac is still keeping his options open. His office comments that he will make up his mind "at the appropriate moment" – whenever that might be.
When questioned by 400 students in a staged event, this proved not to be the only difference between Chirac and Blair. Asked when Britain should join the euro, Blair gave his "formula" answer: “when the economic conditions are right.” Chirac answered "As soon as possible."
And when should your referendum be, Mr Chirac?