James Forsyth

The role of Baroness Ashton

The role of Baroness Ashton
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Recent reports have suggested that David Cameron is interested in swapping Cathy Ashton’s job as the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy for another commission post. But sources close to Number 10 tell me this ain’t happening.

Supposedly, Cameron was interested in swapping Ashton’s current role for the post of commissioner for the internal market, currently held by the Frenchman Michel Barnier. But, in reality, this was never on the cards for a whole host of reasons.

Foremost of these was that Nicolas Sarkozy was never going to give up the French claim to this job just weeks away from a French presidential election. Secondly, because Ashton is also vice-president of the commission, the whole European Council would have had to sign off on this switch.

I do, though, hear that Ashton is devoting an increasing amount of time to her role as the British commissioner, trying to push the government’s aim of deepening the single market.