Foreign Office complains of being sidelined

Mrs Thatcher may have disliked diplomats for not being "one of us", but she still used them to make sure there was someone to blame when things went wrong. David Cameron has behaved over the euro negotiations more like his Labour predecessor Tony Blair, whose Downing Street team often virtually ignored the Foreign Office altogether, as the Iraq disaster revealed.

That was the view of some mandarins at King Charles Street yesterday as accusations and recriminations continued over British isolation in Europe. The FCO complained they had been sidelined about the strategy that was adopted in Brussels and now have to pick up the pieces in the fractured relationship with the rest of Europe.

Mr Cameron's team, it seems, had planned a surprise strike on the eurozone, in which the other leaders, tired and sleepless after long hours of often acrimonious negotiations, would accept the British demand, introduced at 2.30am, to bring the marathon to an end. Instead, say critics, the ambushers who got ambushed.

Mr Cameron may take some consolation in the words of one of the giants of history that nothing is set in stone when it comes to international relations: "Treaties, you see, are like girls and roses, they last while they last" – Charles de Gaulle.

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