Peter Hoskin

4 hours and 35 minutes to win hearts and change minds

4 hours and 35 minutes to win hearts and change minds
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So here it is.  The day that Brown has been banging on about for the past few months; the day of the London Summit.  And how are things looking?  Slightly uncertain, I'd say.  Despite weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, tensions remain, and there's not enough of a consensus to suggest that all is done and dusted.  This was made abundantly clear by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy's joint press conference yesterday - a bold and telling sign that the Franco-German contingent isn't all that happy with les Anglo-Saxons.  According to the FT, Downing Street has been trying - frantically, one imagines - to broker a deal overnight.  But, even so, it seems Brown has got to make some concessions today or change some minds.  And all in 4 hours and 35 minutes.

What if he can't manage it?  What if Sarkozy makes good on his threats to walk out and drag the whole thing into chaos?  Myself, I don't think the French President will go so far.  Sure, he's probably keen to be seen as strong and free-willed by his domestic audience.  But I doubt he'd give Brown, and others, an opportunity to caricature him as the man who stood in the way of global recovery.  In which case, we can expect all the amassed leaders to put their names to a G20 communiqué later.  The real question is whether that will contain much beyond platitudes.  Again, I have my doubts.