From attacking the AstraZeneca vaccine to threats to cut off Jersey's electricity, French president has done nothing but inflame tensions
This article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph 4 August 2021 begins with these words:
Relations between the British and French governments have rarely been so dreadful since the origins of the entente cordiale and the long alliance under Lord Aberdeen in the 1840s.
The diplomatic earthquake of Brexit has collided with the political character of Emmanuel Macron, who combines ultra-Europeanist ideology (when it suits him) with Bonapartist methods and ambition.
Five years on from the Referendum, cross-Channel disaffection has degenerated into a tedious cycle of mutual grievances and snarling hair-trigger reactions. The worst construction is put on everything. Downing Street suspects that Mr Macron sabotaged the AstraZeneca vaccine out of malice, while French journalists think he just slipped up.
The Élysée is convinced that the "amber plus" quarantine rule for France, and only France, was revenge. We weary rosbifs know it was just another cock-up by jumpy ministers who misread Covid data from outre-mer.
The venomous mood has echoes of the Fashoda crisis. But obscured from public gaze, the British and the French are cooperating as intimately as ever on defence. A French brigadier serves as deputy-commander of the UK’s First Infantry Division, and vice versa in a French division.
British Chinook helicopters transport French troops in the jidahist wars of the Sahel. The two countries defend each others’ interests in the Pacific. They work jointly on nuclear warheads.
The Franco-British rapid reaction force (CJEF) reached full capability late last year, able to deploy 10,000 men on land, sea, and air, far and wide in combat operations. France has no such tight arrangement with any other country. The Franco-German brigade is mostly a paper creation.
This military entente was launched at Lancaster House in 2010 by David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy, which in turn dates back to how well the two armies worked together in Bosnia. “It was not the Americans who ended the siege of Sarajevo: it was the British and the French on the ground,” said Charles Grant from the Centre for European Reform.
Mr Macron’s pietistic speeches about a "European army", and an EU defence union to match monetary union, are strangely detached from reality. No such capability exists. The Germans are famously "believers but not participants". Most of the eurozone cut defence budgets to the bone in the mid-2010s in order to meet EU-imposed austerity rules.
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Britain's continental battery
Connects to France with enough capacity to power 3m homes.
Connects to the Netherlands with enough capacity to power 1m homes.
Connects to Belgium with enough capacity to power 1m homes.
Connects to Norway with enough capacity to power 1.4m homes.
Connects to Denmark with enough capacity to power 1.4m homes.
SOURCE: NATIONAL GRID