British press wades into 'playground' spat with France

17th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's press waded into the bickering between London and Paris over the state of each other's economy, but warned Saturday that the "playground" spat was getting both sides nowhere.

Some newspapers warned that neither side had much room for crowing, while others made merry in the bust-up and childish name-calling of the new "Entente Glaciale".

The eurosceptic Daily Mail had a field day.

"There are few more comic spectacles than Frenchmen throwing fits of Gallic pique against the victors of Waterloo," the mid-market tabloid said.

"And when even the eurofanatical Nick Clegg tells them to back off, it's a sure sign they've gone way over the top."

It put the boot into "sulky" French President Nicolas Sarkozy, scoffed at what it called hysterics from "the powerless head of France's toytown central bank" and then turned on the finance minister and his "playground abuse".

"France is fast becoming a basket-case economy", it added.

The leftist Guardian said that "so long as we are all in the same sinking boat, we would be wise to focus on rowing in the same direction".

"Britain and France always were the best of enemies. They share similar delusions", it said.

French cabinet ministers had this week "reduced the cross-Channel dialogue to the level of a year-six spat in a playground".

"Comrades, we are in the same boat. A sinking one.

"So there's no room for crowing. And that applies as much to British eurosceptics as it does to French ministers blowing raspberries."

The Times said Britain and France must not let what it called the present "Entente Glaciale" undermine their common interests, calling it a "sour end" to a year when cross-Channel relations have rarely been better.

It had a cartoon of Sarkozy as a cockerel, having its neck wrung and being stuffed by Cameron like a festive turkey.

"The childish cross-Channel spat now going on as the embattled Sarkozy government badmouths Britain's economy to deflect attention from its own travails... is not a turning point in Anglo-French relations or a sign of breakdown in the overall relations," it said.

The "smug" French Finance Minister Francois Baroin is, nevertheless, "intensely irritating" with his "calculating, deliberate and malicious" comments.

"Both countries have a vital interest in resolving the euro crisis. It is time to set aside the gibes and name-calling in the search for a solution."

The Daily Mirror also said both countries were in it together.

"The cross-Channel bust-up between Britain and France would be funny if it wasn't so tragic," the left-wing tabloid said.

Cameron's relationship with Sarkozy had crumbled into "bitter recriminations".

"That is a disaster when the world is teetering on the brink of a new monetary maelstrom.

"Time is running out. Statesmanship, not petty squabbling, is needed to save us from catastrophe."

The Independent said Cameron had backed into a corner over Europe, and relations between London and Paris were at their lowest ebb for years.

"Now, more than ever, the prime minister should be working to undo the damage of his isolationist position," it said.

"French broadsides" were just posturing about its "almost-certain" credit ratings downgrade.

Britain does not have "any remaining political capital", it said, citing Cameron's "cack-handed diplomacy" which has "sadly confirmed the European view of the UK as recalcitrant".

© 2011 AFP

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