Tuesday 16 June 2009

Just don't talk to us about Europe, Tories tell the French

Ben Hall reports that Sarkozy-Cameron tensions remain tense in this morning's Financial Times.

In a book entitled A European in a Hurry, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, who is close to the Elysée, quotes Mr Sarkozy as telling Mr Cameron: “We want the Conservatives to stay with us. It is important politically. If not, we won’t work with you, even on a bilateral level.”

The relationship between the two men broke down when the Tory leader invited his French counterpart to address the Conservative party’s annual conference in 2006, but on condition he did not talk about Europe. “Nicolas Sarkozy was dumbfounded and enraged,” Mr Giuliani wrote. “His anger towards the British Conservative leader has not subsided.”

Alex Barker on the FT Westminster blog suggests the Tories are making regular use of this don't talk about Europe policy when meeting counterparts from our major EU partners.

This reminded me of a Tory frontbencher who went to Paris to meet the French minister covering his brief. A difficult conversation? “No,” said the Tory. “I told him I would talk about all issues — except EU co-operation. You just have to be clear about the ground rules.”

Just don't mention the EU.

Basil Fawlty would be proud indeed.

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