In his new book, A Journey, Mr Blair writes that the former US president was confused by the presence of Guy Verhofstadt at the 2001 G8 summit in Genoa. “He didn’t know or recognise Guy, whose advice he listened to with considerable astonishment,” Mr Blair writes. “He then turned to me and whispered, ‘Who is this guy?’ ‘He is the prime minister of Belgium,’ I said. Belgium? George said, clearly aghast at the possible full extent of his stupidity. ‘Belgium is not part of the G8’.” Mr Blair explained to Mr Bush that Mr Verhofstadt was there as “president of Europe”. Belgium held the presidency of the EU council at the time. Mr Bush responded: “You got the Belgians running Europe?” before shaking his head, “now aghast at our stupidity”, Mr Blair writes.
“Running Europe”? Well, not quite, but W’s aghastness will do nicely. In fact, very nicely.
As for not knowing who Verhofstadt was, one can only admire the president’s shrewdly selective assessment of what information is worth knowing — and what is not.
In case you were wondering, the current Belgian prime minister (if only, I think, on a caretaker basis) is Yves Leterme.
Yes, yes, I looked it up.