Daniel Korski

Who is the British foreign secretary?

Who is the British foreign secretary?
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Officially, of course, the answer to that question is William Hague - who has put in some decent work since assuming office, particularly during the Arab Spring. But, still, I ask it because, following the European Council, Nick Clegg seems to have usurped the Foreign Secretary's role in a number of key areas. It was the Deputy Prime Minister who engaged the newly-elected Spanish leader, for example. It was also Clegg, not Hague, who was instrumental in bringing German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle to Britain on a 'we still love you' visit yesterday. And when it comes to phoning European leaders to press a UK position, it is the Deputy Prime Minister who is asked to put in the hours, not the veto-wielding Prime Minister or Britain's chief diplomat.

After the European Council, some people advised Clegg privately to push for a reshuffle, making him Foreign Secretary. It seems Clegg has sidestepped the demand for an outright reshuffle, given his weak electoral position, and instead pushed for control of Europe policy, giving him a power beyond what deputy prime ministers are used to having. For now, this probably suits David Cameron. If Clegg can build bridges in Europe, the PM is likely to be happy to hand his deputy a morsel. But others in the Tory party won't like it nearly as much.