London, Nov.19 (ANI): Britain is locked in a dramatic clash with Germany over backing former prime minister Tony Blair's bid to be President of Europe.
With Berlin deciding not to back Blair, Prime Minister Gordon Brown is preparing one last-ditch effort to urge deadlocked leaders to pick his predecessor for the powerful new role.
His chances were rocked when a top German official revealed that his country was backing Belgian PM Herman Van Rompuy for the post.
Reinhard Bettzuege, the German ambassador in Brussels, declared: "Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government are behind Van Rompuy for this job."
Senior British sources, however, denied reports that Mr Blair has already thrown in the towel, The Sun reports.
Within hours, Labour's Europe minister Chris Bryant hit back by branding Van Rompuy a "federalist" who threatened Britain's national interest.
He also slammed shadow foreign secretary William Hague for opposing Blair's bid.
He said: "I am bewildered that Hague would want to support Van Rompuy - who has a rather more federalist agenda than other prime ministers in Europe."
EU leaders had hoped to agree on a name earlier this week - and rubber-stamp it at tonight's dinner in Brussels.
Besides former PM Mr Blair and Mr Van Rompuy, hopefuls include Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende and Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker. Latvia's ex-president Vaira Vike-Freiberga has also thrown her hat into the ring. (ANI)