One could be forgiven for wondering if the “entente cordiale” has become the “entente vitriole” in the last few days.
Earlier today the governor of the Bank of France suggested that France did not deserve a downgrade by ratings agencies; at least not before the UK.
“A downgrade doesn’t strike me as justified based on economic fundamentals,” Christian Noyer told Le Telegramme, a Brittany-based newspaper. “Or if it is, they should start by downgrading the U.K., which has a bigger deficit, as much debt, more inflation, weaker growth and where bank lending is collapsing.”
The French are braced for a possible downgrade by Standard & Poor’s. For a head of a central bank – normally the most staid of characters – to talk like this is a sign of the mounting anxiety across the Channel.
The comments from Noyer, which are unlikely to slip down smoothly in the corridors of Whitehall and the City of London, follow broader tensions in the wake of David Cameron’s veto in the early hours of Friday morning.
Nicolas Sarkozy is reported to have described David Cameron as an “obstinate kid” over his behaviour in the EU summit, as the Guardian reports this morning.