Blair mooted as possible future World Bank chief

By staff writers
19 May 2007

It would be the ultimate political reshuffle. As George Bush trustee Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the disastrous US Iraq strategy, prepares to head out of the World Bank on the back of corruption allegations, the man who is about to step down as Britain's Prime Minister is being touted as a possible successor.

The source of the rumour appears to be a journalist who approached Nobel Prize Economics Laureate Joseph Stiglitz for an opinion. He is author of the best-selling reformist book Globalisation and Its Discontents, and a former senior vice president at the World Bank.

In the absence of hard evidence, speculation inevitably abounds concerning Mr Blair's future intentions after June 2007, when he will be succeeded as Labour leader and PM by ally and rival Chancellor Gordon Brown.

But World Bank observers have told Ekklesia that Tony Blair's name has been mooted seriously, albeit with an awareness that he is unlikely to want to step into the breach immediately.

Analysts say that one possibility would be for someone currently at the stable administrative core of the soft loans affiliate to 'act up' for a few months while "a proper search takes place".

Going against the soon-to-be-ex British PM is the fact that he is not an economist and has only tangential experience of development.

But World Bank officials believe that a senior world statesman with a commitment to combat poverty could provide the ideal way of restoring the organisation's tarnished reputation.

It is known that Mr Balir wishes to establish a Foundation which will promote reconciliation on the global stage, not least among the religions. But while this is a mammoth task, it is thought the PM has an appetite for a more hands-on strategic role once he has had a family break.

As the time of his departure from Downing Street looms, the rumour mills will grind even harder, says an insider. "The World Bank notion has some credibility, though I don't think it will happen. That said, I anticipate that Mr Blair will be associated with just about every major post going - down to, though perhaps not including, the various vacancies at Premiership football clubs."

Meanwhile, Mr Stiglitz observed: "Tony Blair has clearly been a political leader [who] has the kind of connections that one needs. This would be useful as the head of the [World Bank] institution."

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