Matthew Dancona

A remarkable performance

A remarkable performance
Text settings
Comments

Nicolas Sarkozy's address to both Houses of Parliament was a remarkable political performance, bristling with confident charm, and a reminder that, for all his travails, the French President is a politician of the first order. Flanked by his new wife, Carla Bruni, Sarkozy gave a speech that Jacques Chirac or, for that matter, Ségolène Royal would never have countenanced. Most of the content was predictable and unremarkable: homage to Britain's role in the Second World War, encouragement to this country to be an active participant in the EU, the promise of more French troops for Afghanistan, conciliatory words on CAP reform, calls for cooperation on immigration. Yet the tone was all: here was a French President praising the achievements of Britain, and hailing the Anglo-Saxon model as an inspiration. None of Sarkozy's predecessors would have come anything like as close to declaring the Franco-German axis a diplomatic fossil, a once dominant alliance that is no longer fit for purpose (it doesn't help that he and Angela Merkel get on so badly).

There was memorable moment at the end when David Miliband, George Osborne and Nick Clegg stood chatting energetically, young political opponents united in their admiration for this diminutive French powerhouse. A playboy President, perhaps, but quite something all the same.