Nicolas Sarkozy is going to cause problems for both Gordon Brown and David Cameron. The headache for Cameron, as Matt pointed out the other day, is that Sarkozy sounds far more right-wing than he actually is. His victory speech was full of the kind of red-meat rhetoric that much of the Tory grassroots and press are yearning to hear. Just take this passage, which would—with Britain substituted for France—have them on their feet roaring for more at conference:
I am thus going to restore the status of work, authority, standards, respect, merit. I am going to give the place of honour back to the nation and national identity. I am going to give back to the French people pride in France
Add to this, that Sarkozy will inevitably end up in nostalgia-inducing confrontations with the Unions and you have a new poster-boy for the Tory right. You can already hear them muttering, if it even works in France…
The hassle for Brown is that Sarkozy looks and sound like a leader and so will highlight that Brown is, well, one of nature’s finance ministers. Within minutes of being declared the victor, Sarkozy seemed the embodiment of his country. His speech was littered with the kind of grandiose statements that would sound absurd coming from Brown. If Brown can’t become a statesman over-night, the contrast with Sarkozy will only serve to highlight his deficiencies.
On top of this, Sarkozy will be a force to be reckoned with at EU summits and is likely to push hard for his vision of a slimmed down constitution. Brown’s first few months in office could be dominated by battles over the Union and Europe which certainly isn’t what Brown had down on his grid.