Mr Prescott is no diplomat and seven months ago, piloting his battle bus during the general election campaign he would have seemed an unlikely, and inexperienced green. But in the past two months, and this week in particular, he has played a significant role in the negotiation of the Kyoto protocol. In the run- up to Kyoto he made two round-the-world trips to consult with the key parties; after arriving in Japan at the weekend, his irascible leadership has prevailed.
As a member of the "troika" - the past, present and future holders of the European presidency - Britain was always going to play a significant part in negotiations on the EU's behalf in Kyoto. But for several reasons, Mr Prescott has extended that role.