Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is said to have suffered a setback after reportedly losing support of continental leaders in his bid to become the European Union's powerful new president.
His key backer, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, has "changed his mind" about Blair's suitability for the post due to the former PM's perceived "failure" to achieve any change in the Middle East, 'The Sunday Telegraph' reported.
And, without Sarkozy's support, Blair's candidacy --which is unofficially backed by Gordon Brown and the British government - is effectively doomed.
Moreover, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, another key figure whose support Blair would need, is now said by senior figures in Brussels "never to have been that keen on Tony getting the job in the first place."
According to sources in Brussels, the favourite for the job now is Spain's charismatic socialist former PM Felipe Gonzales whose government collapsed in a sleaze scandal three years back, the newspaper report said.
Gonzales also heads an EU "wise men's" group appointed by Sarkozy, the perfect platform to launch a presidential bid. "Sarkozy is in favour of Gonzales's candidacy once the Lisbon Treaty has passed," Gonzales's Spokesman Joaquin Tajar said.