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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks