Thursday 14 December 2017

'Friends' Sarkozy, Cameron bury the hatchet

John Lichfield in Paris

ANGLO-FRENCH spats may come and go but the blood-brotherhood of right-of-centre politics lasts forever.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday shrugged off the cross-Channel slanging match of late last year and gave his enthusiastic support to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign for re-election.

After a Franco-British summit in Paris, Mr Cameron went out of his way to laud the "energy and courage" of a French president who once described him as "behaving like a stubborn kid".

"I think that he has done great things for his country," Mr Cameron said, with Mr Sarkozy grinning alongside him. "I wish my friend well in the battle that lies ahead."

Opinion polls show that Mr Sarkozy, of the centre-right Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire, is trailing the socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, in the two-round election in April and May.

Mr Cameron made it clear, however, that unlike Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, he has no intention of joining in Mr Sarkozy's uphill battle to win a second term. A British prime minister appearing on the campaign trail in France "might not have the effect intended", Mr Cameron said.

Anglo-French relations are wonderful, the two leaders insisted yesterday, but not so wonderful that a Conservative British PM could hope successfully to harangue the French electorate.

The annual Franco-British summit had been postponed from last November when the two countries were squabbling over plans to tighten fiscal discipline in the EU.

The leaders yesterday announced a series of cross-Channel agreements on defence and energy cooperation, including a £400m (€482m) deal with the French nuclear power company Areva, which will create 1,500 jobs in Britain.

Treaty

Mr Sarkozy and Mr Cameron also built on the ground-breaking defence co-operation treaty they negotiated in London in November 2010.

They signed a letter of intent to develop a pilotless, radar-busting, fighter aircraft which could transform aerial combat from the 2020s.

Of the December spats over the EU fiscal treaty blocked by Mr Cameron, Mr Sarkozy said that the two governments were now looking for ways to "respect" each other's "red lines".

"We have had divergences of views but perhaps, had I been in David Cameron's position, I would have defended Britain's interests in exactly the same way," Mr Sarkozy said. (©Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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