The Vandal of Downing Street; COMMENT

Article excerpt

AT first blush, this has been a week of frustration for a Prime Minister who can't contemplate an ancient tradition or a great institution without wanting to tear it down.

In the face of stubborn opposition from all sides, he and Lord Falconer - whose only qualification for high office is that he was once Tony's flatmate - have been forced to abandon the much-trumpeted 'reform' of the House of Lords.

To make matters worse, Mr Blair had to seek Tory help to rescue his botched scheme to abolish the post of Lord Chancellor and set up a Supreme Court.

And to cap his humiliation, a Prime Minister determined to secure his place in history by abolishing the pound then sat through a Budget in which Gordon Brown took just one sentence to kick the euro into the long grass for another year.

The truth is that this messiah of change for change's sake has seen the wheels come off his grand constitutional project.

His dreams of taking Britain into the single currency are further away than ever.

On this first anniversary of a misbegotten war, launched on a false prospectus, his legacy seems threadbare indeed.

But make no mistake. The threat to Britain from Mr Blair's crass, constitutional vandalism isn't over yet.

Events in the EU are conspiring to offer him one last chance to shape this country's destiny, even if it means (as in the war) flying in the face of voters' wishes.

There has been a tectonic shift in Europe's political landscape since the Madrid atrocity. Spain is no longer resisting the EU constitution. Incoming Prime Minister Jose Zapatero talks eagerly of renewing his country's 'magnificent' ties with France and Germany.

So only Poland remains an obstacle to federalist ambitions. Meanwhile the current EU President, Ireland's Bertie Ahern, has been working overtime to secure agreement. …