British press takes sides in '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.

Britain hit back Friday at French criticism of its economy with deputy premier Nick Clegg telling France's prime minister his comments were "simply unacceptable".

Some newspapers warned that neither side had much room for crowing.

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 said, asking whether Britain should seize trading opportunities with emerging China and India rather than binding its fortunes to the European Union, a "sclerotic... abomination against democracy".

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" about their culture, language and intelligence, 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.

"If the leaders of countries like Britain and France don't realise what they have in common, it is no exaggeration to say that Europe risks being torn apart by nationalism, economic protectionism, and the anti-immigrant xenophobia of the far right."

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 has crumbled into "bitter recriminations in the face of the eurozone crisis" and they "aren't even on the same page" when it comes to tackling the financial crisis.

"That is a disaster when the world is teetering on the brink of a new monetary maelstrom and, while flag-waving patriots won't want to hear it, much of the blame lies here," it said, citing Cameron's refusal to sign up to an EU deal.

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

© 2011 AFP

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