Stanley's blog

Why Mr Brown? Why?

Why did the British Prime Minister sign the new EU Reform Treaty in Lisbon on 13 December alone, three hours after the official signing ceremony? Certainly not because a House of Commons committee meeting takes precedence.

We know that Gordon Brown is not a social soul and prefers ‘talking turkey’ to sipping champagne. The only rational explanation is that he calculated that such behaviour would help the ratification process in Parliament. Maybe this does appeal to Luddites and Europhobes, butI’m not convinced that the majority of down-to-earth Britons wish to see their leader the odd one out, unless on a substantive issue.

A more worrying explanation is that he could not care less what his European colleagues thought. This attitude may be accepted by British Cabinet colleagues whose positions depend upon his patronage, but it is not the way “to win friends and influence people”. Any successful politician knows that substantive arguments alone do not ensure success.

We all have to go sometimes to parties we don’t want to attend, and mix with people we don’t want to mix with. And we all recognise the importance of networking.

So perhaps Prime Minister Brown has his own phobia: that he just does not like foreigners (Americans, Australians, Canadians…not being regarded by him as foreigners). And as he no doubt sees his Foreign Office the protector of foreigners, he is unlikely to listen to its advice.

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