Patten hits back at Straw over EU 'odd bods' jibe

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A jibe by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, about the calibre and self-importance of European Union diplomats provoked a protest yesterday from Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external relations, who dismissed the comments as "ridiculous".

A jibe by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, about the calibre and self-importance of European Union diplomats provoked a protest yesterday from Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external relations, who dismissed the comments as "ridiculous".

Mr Straw ridiculed the EU's team of overseas ambassadors in an effort to see off Eurosceptic claims that a draft European constitution will establish structures to rival national diplomatic corps.

He had told a parliamentary select committee: "You find all sorts of odd bods running these sorts of odd offices", and it was "not entirely clear what they are doing". Mr Straw provoked laughter as he added: "All sorts of people are referred to as ambassadors. I meet them every day. What's astonishing is that the less important the country, the more people like this they seem to have. I call everybody 'Excellency' which doesn't cause any problem."

Emma Udwin, the spokeswoman for Mr Patten, who is responsible for 130 delegations and offices around the world, said the commissioner "finds the use of the words 'odd bods' ridiculous. He will be writing to Mr Straw to give his views in more detail."

Mr Patten said there was "no question that Commission delegations play a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of EU action around the globe. They are staffed by hard working and committed people".

Comments