Friday, 28 March 2008

Supping With Sarkozy: Use a Long Spoon

One of the more serious problems of having a PM like Brown, ridden as he is with doubt and insecurity, hesitation and inferiority, is that anyone who flatters him can have whatever he wants.

And, let's be clear, Sarkozy - who can play Brown like a fiddle - wants plenty from the UK public purse. In particular, as first predicted on C@W here 9 months ago, he is looking for contributions to his immense nuclear decommissioning bill.

And he knows all too well the cheap beads with which to entrance our native chief: a modicum of flattery, a soupçon of faux-gratitude, a hint of cooperation over Sangatte, a nod in the direction of CAP reform, and a mention of more French troops for Afghanistan. Pressing all the buttons with the light touch of an elegant finger, the other fingers crossed firmly behind his back (doubtless to be raised in traditional Anglo-Saxon salute on conclusion of the state visit).

Oh yes, and some kind of partnership on developing nuclear power (read: we may get slightly higher priority on buying some key components of nuclear reactors that only the French currently build). This has been heavily hyped, but the entire 14 pages of the agreed communiqué contains only these 52 words on the subject, and pretty thin they are too.

"Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of nuclear development projects, including in safety and pre-licensing, through our nuclear regulators working closely together to share information on nuclear safety, security and waste management, action which could be extended to other interested European partners (and which could include as appropriate other items of common interests)"

"Extended to other interested European partners …” Oh yes, Sarkozy wants nothing less than an EU Common Nuclear Policy. And – mark my words- it will involve in the rest of us picking up his tab.

And he’s just found his first sucker subscriber. Get a grip, Brown, it’s our money he’s after !



Sackerson said...

I wondered what he was up to. When they start with the soft soap, exepct to be shaved.

Anonymous said...

Yes it did occur to me earlier "what does he want?" then I recalled your excellent predictions!

Nick Drew said...

Thanks. In fact I have been predicting this for years: it's an instinctive (as well as ideological) French reaction to their big difficulties. WW1, WW2, unviable rural economy: no problem, no embarrassment, no cock-up so big you can't internationalise it !

What is interesting is that Sarkozy is the first French politician to be bold and confident enough to try his hand with the nukes. A clear-sighted nationalist and a real player !

And we trudge onto the playing-field, led by the one-eyed king. Makes you weep.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article and spot on about Brown.

Trouble is we have another two years of this. God help us all.

Bill Quango MP said...

Gordon on the telephone to his new friend.

"Well, that's agreed then Nicolas.. yes .. Yes ..Ok. Yes next week I promise.. ......No you put the phone down first...No you..No you... Ok, on the count of three.. One , two, three...Hello ? .. you didn't put it down either!.. No you put it down first.. No you..Ohh he's hung up."

Mark Wadsworth said...

Nice one. There was something in the FT recently that nuclear is only viable if they get cut price use of waste storage facilities. Which confirms my long-held belief that nuclear does not make economic sense. And why on earth we should be subsidising French companies is a mystery to me.

Nick Drew said...

Mr Q - sounds about right

Ken - thanks

Mark - & thanks again.

A propos of "nuclear is only viable if ...", there is another amusing nuclear industry 'only if' revealed in a front-page Grauniad article today:

Carlo de Riva, chief executive of French state-owned nuclear company EDF, said British backing for renewables would undermine nuclear power.

"If you provide incentives for renewables ... that will displace the incentives built into the carbon market. In effect, carbon gets cheaper. And if carbon gets cheaper, you depress the returns for all the other low-carbon technologies. [like nuclear power]."

Bloody frogs !

Mark Wadsworth said...

ND, bloody frogs indeed! FT article on non-viability of nuclear is here. I am assuming that the maths is correct.

My new energy policy is "Do nothing. End all subsidies and tax-breaks. Let the markets sort it out. Delegate planning permission decisions for any new power stations to local councils and county councils".

James Higham said...

For him to come to power he ahd to have been EU approved - simple logic.

Anonymous said...

What about our own £70 billion nuclear decommissioning bill?!?!

Nick Drew said...

Letters - I am sure Sarkozy will graciously extend his Common Nuclear Policy to all - it's just that he knows who will benefit disproportionately ...

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