How Tony and friends put the world right in a weekend

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The Independent Online
THE PRIME Minister came to the House of Commons yesterday for his usual 30 minutes of questions but was kept in detention after school for an extra hour.

He had been playing truant for two days on a Euro-bash in Cardiff with his mates Jacques Santer, Jacques Chirac and Helmut Kohl and a few others who had come over for a long weekend.

They were having a party to mark the end of Mr Blair's six months as President of the European Union Council of Ministers.

The Speaker and the House authorities wanted him to give an account of this party and tell members of Parliament what had been going on. Apparently they all had a splendid time in Cardiff. The hotel was comfortable and there was a TV and a mini bar in every room.

"Cardiff itself looked marvellous and did great credit to Wales and this country" Mr Blair told the Commons.

I could have thought of better places to take my very important friends if I was President of the council, but it seemed Mr Blair inherited the booking from the Tories. William Hague told him that he decided on Cardiff when he was Secretary of State for Wales.

It seemed that Mr Blair and his friends did not do much sightseeing, what with the recent bad weather and the heavy rain meant they had to stay indoors most of the time. Nobody had remembered to bring any jigsaw puzzles so they just chatted about all the problems of the world - most of which they couldn't do anything about.

They chuntered about a place called Kosovo which none of them wanted to visit. Things are in a dreadful state there. The hotel's not being what they were.

In fact, Mr Blair has written to complain to the head of the local tourist office (A fellow called Milosevic who has let the whole thing go to rack and ruin.

They had a good old natter about Turkey as part of what Mr Blair called an "enlargement debate" but it seemed this all came to nothing. Similarly, they denounced India and Pakistan, talked about drugs everywhere and crime getting out of hand. Anyway, after a couple of days they started getting on each others nerves. Helmut cut up rough about his share of the food and drinks bill and wanted his money back.

William Hague was jealous because he had not been invited and said it had all been a waste of time: "We know the Prime Minister has always wanted to be a president. What a shame he made a mess of it when he had the chance."

Mr Hague had read reports in all the foreign papers which said they had all had a dreadful time and the food was awful. Blair retorted that he had read the foreign papers and they all said Helmut and Jacques had had a marvellous time.

Before Mr Blair's extra hour in the Commons it was business as usual for his regular question time.

Creep of the Week Award goes to Dr Tony Wright (Lab, Cannock) who asked the Prime Minister if he would congratulate himself on giving an honour to Geoff Hurst. Even Mr Blair cringed and the House groaned.

THOSE were the days, in the Wilson era, when England won the World Cup and the only riots were to avoid being kissed by Nobby Styles without his teeth in.

These days, our lads are made of sterner stuff. If we are to believe Alan Clark, they are fighting Johnnie Foreigner on the beaches, and in the car parks. These are the same heroic figures, according to Clark the historian, who defeated the French at Agincourt.

Today, Henry V would have sacked the lot after filling the breach. Quite right. Mr Clark heard the Prime Minister urging employers to give the hooligans the red card when they returned from their sojourn in France, and strolled out with the air of the Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. I wonder whether he has a tattoo of the St George cross on his stomach?

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