Anybody who has any interest in the French-British relationship will know all too well its an up-and-down kind of affair. Its mostly (well in Britain at least) a suspicious thing, lots of repeated misunderstandings (almost certainly accidental but often taken as deliberate) peppered with the occasional outbreak of open hostilities. But on the up-side its just mostly bad!
Just now the French are less than pleased with what they (rightly???) see as ‘le French-bashing’ in the UK press. The Economist led with a cover story picture of a bundle of baguettes made to look like sticks of dynamite with the header ‘The time-bomb at the heart of Europe’. This might have hit a fair few nerves in Paris.
Then there’s the case of the under-utilized Mittal steel plant threatened with closure of two blast furnaces. The French Government made it known they were thinking of nationalising the plant. Boris Johnson whilst in India decided to make a speech in a language that can only be best described as French (but hey who knows it could have just been complete gibberish, I just don’t know myself) inviting investors over the Channel to have a walk down David Cameron’s red carpet.
It’s probably safe to say that there doesn’t appear to be a warm friendly glow to the Cameron-Hollande relationship. Hollande seems to think Britain are standing in the way of Eurozone reconstruction, cant think how he formed that point of view. But whats the problem anyway? Well, in a less than discreet interview with the FT le Gouverneur of the Bank of France, M Christian Noyer broke the news that in his view it was not acceptable for London to remain the financial center of the Eurozone. He said it was his clear objective to move all Euro transactions to Paris and Frankfurt. The Brits have long thought this was the case but the likes of Trichet and Draghi haven’t been so indiscreet as to say so.
Boris of course responded with lightening speed, perhaps too quickly and maybe before he had any time to consider how he might best respond. He sought to tell M Noyer to carefully place his baguette where the sun don’t shine. But you could tell this was getting serious when one Dr. Vince Cable enters the fray robustly in support of the City; a miracle at Christmas you might suggest? So M Noyer seems to have done the seemingly impossible: reconciliation between Dr. Cable and the banks.
Chapeau! M le Gouverneur.