The moment for which John Major had toiled through 15 months of mind-numbing tedium consisted of the ambassador taking the 'instrument of ratification' - a piece of vellum with the Queen's seal - and depositing it at the ministry, custodian of the 1957 Treaty of Rome.
The document had left London in Saturday's diplomatic bag after the Maastricht Bill had received Royal Assent last week. It arrived at the British embassy yesterday morning. Only after Lord Rees-Mogg had abandoned his legal fight against the treaty was Sir Patrick Fairweather given the go-ahead from London.
The document joins 10 others from those EC member-states that had already ratified.
Britain was not last past the post after all. A gleeful Foreign Office spokesman said: 'That leaves only the Germans.'
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