France’s beleaguered President Sarkozy left Britain on Thursday night after a high-profile 48-hour state visit aimed as much at deepening and strengthening the famously tortured bilateral relationship between traditional rivals, as crucial restoration of a presidential image battered by a too-public private life and too many wives.
With much of frumpy Britain alternately awed and amused by the so-called president le Bling-Bling’s verbal and personal flamboyance and the vaguely Jackie Kennedy sartorial style of his glamorous new wife of six weeks, Carla Bruni, Anglo-French ties are seen to have soared to their highest level in decades. President Nicolas Sarkozy strategically arrived in the UK on Wednesday with a demurely-dressed Bruni, an entourage chock-full of glamorous woman cabinet members and a verbal armoury stocked with honeyed words of praise for Britain and its “leadership of the world”.
Sarkozy left Britain on a high, two days after his arrival,having accomplished a typically Gallic seduction. Staid Britain, which has long nursed a deep envy of the au naturel chic of its neighbour, found itself flattered by his attentions, flustered by his admiration and swooning with the joy of being so obviously adored.
Late on Wednesday, Sarkozy wowed the parliament when he addressed both Houses. In perhaps the warmest homage to Britain ever delivered by a postwar French leader, Sarkozy enthused about Britain as the cradle of democracy. “Without this, would parliamentary democracy have ever existed in the world”, he said.
The flattery prompted British prime minister Gordon Brown to promise at a farewell joint press conference on Thursday that the UK and France – Europe’s main military powers and two-thirds of Europe’s economic strength – would deepen bilateral ties to the level of an ‘Entente Formidable’.
Sarkozy, meanwhile, jokingly said France’s desire for closeness with Britain would last because “It is more than a one-night stand, we will go into the next-day breakfast.” His words, described by some as “the political equivalent of a French kiss” left British politicians flushed and panting for more.
How embarrassing. Sarkozy showering kisses, and Brown sucking his tongue for all it’s worth. Entente Degoutante, more like. Yuck.
UPDATE – John Redwood heard the whole Sarkozy speech in Parliament. He sums it up briliantly HERE
Here’s the summary – There was no sense of irony in the way he put the two parts of his speech together. The first longer part, was brilliant praise of the different British temperament and interests, seeking an independent freedom loving democracy. The second part was a request that we commit ourselves to a centralised over governed European project that limits and damages those very freedom loving democratic virtues for which we at our best have stood.
And the title – The Frenchman Did A Wooing Go Whether His Mother Would Let Him Or No. That’s about as near the line as a professional politician can go in revealing an opinion that Sarkozy was maybe not being entirely serious. My title says the same thing more directly.
The Telegraph also points out that Sarkozy’s promise of more troops to Afghanistan is more than likely so much hot air HERE
EARLIER – Did you see Sarkozy at the G8 summit in 2007 – not ‘taking the ….’ but ‘on the ….’.