It makes me so sad, so disappointed. The UK cannot even be a diligent enough European country to manage to get its Prime Minister to Lisbon to sign the EU Reform Treaty on time. It’s a matter of such elementary organisation, respect and kindness – a clear two fingers in the air from Gordon Brown to the rest of Europe’s leaders. Pictures of the signing are now available – look at those and think of that line of Tony Blair’s, wanting to put Britain at the heart of Europe. Look too at the pictures of David Miliband, arriving alone in Lisbon and grimacing, trying to put a brave face on matters, masking a certain chorus of whispers from the other leaders today. How much lower can Brown sink?
[UPDATE – 15.12.2007]
This story continues to rumble on. There are an interesting few lines in Patrick Wintour’s article in today’s Guardian about it:
Worst of all, Brown’s dithering over whether to attend the Lisbon summit signing of the EU treaty led to general media ridicule in a way that Number 10 had neither foreseen nor understood.
Instead of being feted for his courage in recoiling from this junketing, he was attacked for “sulky rudeness”. Number 10 countered that it was a fuss about nothing…
Sorry, but what is happening here? How could anyone possibly hope that not turning up on time would be perceived as courageous? There are certain norms of behaviour that you just have to respect as a politician, even if at heart you do not want to. I cannot imagine any of Brown’s predecessors even considering any option but turning up in Lisbon on time. OK, Thatcher, Major and others might have had their differences with the EU, but they at least had a grasp of decorum and good manners in public.