Britain and EuropeIt 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.

7 Comments

  1. rose22

    Hear, hear to Ralf’s comment. One thing occured to me – didn’t Thatcher avoid signing the Maastricht Treaty and just send the Foreign Secretary?
    Surely better presentationally to go for fully there or fully not there rather than awkward halfheartedness? I thought Brown was now revealed as the media-savvy one that had taught Blair all he knew in 97… didn’t really come across like that in this context.

  2. Looking at the British (English) blogosphere and media one gets the impression that the national leader who arrived late and blocked or opted out the most has signed away the country and everything worth living for, and that an evil empire, the European Superstate has been born.

    Howcome, the 26 other governments which did not opt out as fervently, noticed nothing and even think that the Lisbon Treaty is an improvement on the existing Treaties?

    Are their populations, traditions, languages and customs going to be swept away by this so called tidal wave, which in reality is much more like updated rules of procedure for the internal working of the EU institutions?

    When some people write that the Treaty of Lisbon is the worst thing since the Norman Invasion A.D. 1066, that person seems to ignore the fact that the English today are descendants of many waves of migrants. Who are the ones who belong to a pure-bred, home-grown higher civilisation, which has to be defended against the fundamental rights and enshrined values of the European Union?

    Kafka should have been born in England. In Prague he never had the chance to reach his full potential.

  3. Just a small word on why one comment has not appeared here: if you post something that I judge to be racist then I’m not going to approve it. Cynical, OK. Tough, hard – fine. Eurosceptic – again, I can live with it. But not racist.

  4. The sight of Miliband in Lisbon with that embarassed look on his face was so sad, I could barely watch.

  5. Well, in comparison with the anti-EU hooligans in the European Parliament (getting massive backing from their highly un-civil supporters), Gordon Brown’s lack of grace is almost genteel.

  6. pampero

    Remember McMillan in 1955 when invited to take part in the discussions about creating a common maarket “Tell them I’m too busy with Cyprus” ?

  7. I agree. I heard Jim Murphy making the most pathetic excuses on the World at One today. There’s no disguising the fact that it’s a snub.

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