David and Nicolas – the best of amis

Fiscal squabbles were forgotten as the Prime Minister and his French counterpart showed unity on defence policy and much else. John Lichfield reports in Paris

Paris

Anglo-French spats may come and go but the blood-brotherhood of right-of-centre politics lasts forever.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, yesterday shrugged off the cross-Channel slanging-match of late last year and gave his enthusiastic support to French President Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign for re-election.

After a Franco-British summit in Paris, Mr Cameron went out of his way to laud the "energy and courage" of a French president who once described him as "behaving like a stubborn kid".

"I think that he has done great things for his country," Mr Cameron said, with Mr Sarkozy grinning alongside him. "I wish my friend well in the battle that lies ahead."

Opinion polls show that Mr Sarkozy, of the centre-right Union Pour un Mouvement populaire (UMP), is trailing the Socialist challenger, François Hollande, in the two-round election in April and May.

Mr Cameron made it clear, however, that unlike Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, he has no intention of joining in Mr Sarkozy's uphill battle to win a second term. A British prime minister appearing on the campaign trail in France "might not have the effect intended", Mr Cameron said.

Anglo-French relations are wonderful, the two leaders insisted yesterday, but not so wonderful that a Conservative British PM could hope successfully to harangue the French electorate.

The annual Franco-British summit had been postponed from last November when the two countries were squabbling over plans to tighten fiscal discipline in the EU. The leaders yesterday announced a series of cross-Channel agreements on defence and energy cooperation, including a £400 million deal with the French nuclear power company Areva, which will create 1,500 jobs in Britain (see below).

Mr Sarkozy and Mr Cameron also built on the ground-breaking defence co-operation treaty they negotiated in London in November 2010. They signed a letter of intent to develop a pilotless, radar-busting, fighter aircraft which could transform aerial combat from the 2020s.

They also agreed to accelerate plans to create a mobile Franco-British control and command centre which could run joint military operations like those over Libya last year. Significantly, both men said that the Franco-British defence partnership would focus in future on the nuclear aspects of defence policy. In the past, the two countries have rejected developments such as shared nuclear submarine patrols but they have agreed to share some aspects of nuclear testing and research.

"The defence co-operation is real, it is substantial, it is going to make a big difference to the military capabilities of both Britain and France," Mr Cameron said yesterday. By "combining" their military capacity the two countries hoped to do just as much, or more, for less, he said.

"And it also covers the most sensitive defence areas of all, including... the nuclear issue," Mr Cameron added. This implied that more elaborate forms of Anglo-French military-nuclear co-operation were again on the table.

The two leaders praised one another for their role in leading the western military intervention in Libya last year which helped to topple Muammar Gaddafi. Both spoke of the need to prevent further bloodshed in Syria.

President Sarkozy said it was a "scandal" that a "state could massacre its own people". Democracies, he said, should never submit to the "diktat of dictatorships". But the international community was powerless, he said, to "impose a revolution from the outside" while the Syrian opposition was divided.

As for the December spats over the EU fiscal treaty blocked by Mr Cameron, Mr Sarkozy said that the two governments were now looking for ways to "respect" each other's "red lines".

"We have had divergences of views but perhaps, had I been in David Cameron's position, I would have defended Britain's interests in exactly the same way," Mr Sarkozy said.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Early Years Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Early Years supply teachers neede...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Progressive Rec.

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Progressive Recruitment are cu...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor