Europe’s elite celebrated the imminent arrival of its first president last night as the last lingering resistance to the Lisbon treaty fell away with the stroke of a pen in Prague.
Gordon Brown and other leaders hailed a new era of expanded powers for the European Union to act on the world stage after the Eurosceptic President of the Czech Republic signed the treaty. The relief across European capitals was palpable as the eight-year journey of an accord that gives Europe a president and a new chief of foreign affairs came to an end.
European leaders wasted no time in starting the process to choose their new president from a range of names including Tony Blair. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Prime Minister of Sweden, which holds the EU presidency, began a round of telephone diplomacy to determine a shortlist of names.
Last night William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, announced the end of the long Conservative campaign for a referendum on the treaty. David Cameron will try to satisfy his Eurosceptic party today with pledges to try to repatriate powers from Brussels and stop any future treaty going through without a referendum.