Anglo-French relations hit new low

False friends: Sarkozy is comfortable issuing public attacks on the British prime minister.
False friends: Sarkozy is comfortable issuing public attacks on the British prime minister.

By Ian Dunt

Anglo-French relations have hit a new low after a series of humiliating comments aimed at David Cameron from French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The news comes as former president Jacques Chirac was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence for corruption while mayor of Paris.

Mr Chirac was found guilty of misusing public funds. He was not in court due to ill health.

His successor, Mr Sarkozy, spent the evening berating Mr Cameron for not supporting EU fiscal consolidation plans, branding the British prime minister "an obstinate kid".

The two men have had increasingly public rows since the eurozone crisis began, but the latest comments mark a new low in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

They are also a far cry from Mr Sarkozy's first official visit to the UK, in which he was credited for his diplomacy and made a speech to both houses of parliament praising British society and pledging an "entente cordiale".

"It's the first time that we have said 'no' to the English," Mr Sarkozy is reported to have said.

"Cameron behaved like an obstinate kid, with a single obsession: protecting the City, which wants to carry on behaving like an offshore centre. No country supported him. That is the mark of a political defeat.

"Objectively, it was a good coup. I manoeuvred well. The whole world recognised that my proposal was the only possible course.

"The accord will perhaps not put an end to the crisis, but it is a tool for facing up to it. The dynamism of the Franco-German axis enabled us to rally 26 countries."

Banque de France governor Christian Noyer argued this morning that a downgrading of France's credit rating could not be economically justified, before launching into a bitter attack on Britain.

"If it is, they should start by downgrading the UK, which has a bigger deficit, as much debt, more inflation, weaker growth and where bank lending is collapsing," he said.

Downing Street replied: "We have put in place a credible plan for dealing with our deficit and the credibility of that plan can be seen in what has happened to bond yields in this country."

Meanwhile, audit firm Ernst & Young warned the eurozone faced a bleak winter, with a mild recession in the first half of 2012 leading to just 0.1% growth for the whole of the year.

The firm added that unemployment was unlikely to fall below ten per cent until 2015.


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