Sarkozy hails 'brotherhood' of France and Britain

France's "bling bling" President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has recast himself in the mould of statesman, laying down an ambitious vision of "a new Franco-British brotherhood for the 21st century" in which the two countries could unite to influence the world.

Addressing a joint session of both Houses of Parliament yesterday, on the first day of a state visit to Britain, M. Sarkozy cantered through history to argue that Britain and France were united by more than divided them, listing the contemporary similarities ranging from GDP to defence priorities.

Calling for an "entente amicale" to replace the 104-year-old entente cordiale alliance, he urged Britain to take its place at the heart of Europe.

"France and the United Kingdom have an important role to play," he said. "By uniting our strengths and determination we can contribute to the emergence of a new globalisation – freer, fairer, more responsible, more just.

"Together we are necessarily stronger than standing side by side, let alone standing against one another," he said. "That is the political message I want to get across to you today."

His eloquent speech in French almost, but perhaps not entirely, managed to banish thoughts of the nude photograph of his new wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, published in yesterday's tabloids. That had cast a shadow over the visit, and the former supermodel sat demurely behind him on the platform in the ornate Royal Gallery, dressed in black and grey.

M. Sarkozy's British audience applauded him repeatedly as he departed frequently from prepared remarks to deliver his fervent appeals for a new era in cross-Channel relations, "from the bottom of my heart".

He confirmed that he would announce an increase in the number of French troops in Afghan-istan at next week's Nato summit, although he did not indicate how many nor say whether they would be deployed in the violent south of the country. "It is forbidden to be defeated," he said, to a further round of applause.

M. Sarkozy argued that Britain and France had an "eminent" role to play in reforming global organisations including the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Gordon Brown, who was in the audience with his wife, Sarah, echoed that view in an interview in yesterday's Le Monde, in which he also expressed support for Tony Blair as the first President of Europe.

M. Sarkozy's 45-minute speech, ahead of last night's state banquet at Windsor Castle, where 150 guests feasted on brill and lamb, prompted a standing ovation. As the audience filed out of the hall, the Conservative former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind praised M. Sarkozy's description of both the US and Britain as France's "natural allies". But, he added: "Let's see if these aspirations are translated into policy."

The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, also a former foreign secretary, said it was "courageous" of M. Sarkozy to insist on his liberal reform agenda in France while holding up Britain as a model.

The President and his wife slept at Windsor Castle last night, where they are the guests of the Queen, who said at the banquet, "growing closer still as friends, our nations have much to celebrate". The visit concludes today with a summit with Mr Brown at Arsenal's stadium.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
News
i100(More than you think)
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
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

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Recruitment Genius: Development Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...

Recruitment Genius: Accountant

£25000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?