The Prime Minister will today chair an international meeting hosted by the French President in Paris. How often could that sentence have been written in the past decade? That it can be written now is a measure of the thoroughly welcome improvement in cross-Channel relations over recent months.
In one respect, this new entente is more evidence of how hard the Government, in its Libya intervention, has tried to avoid the mistakes of Iraq. France and Britain together took the diplomatic lead at the UN and the military lead at Nato. Eight years ago relations between London and Paris were at a nadir, with British officials openly – and wrongly – savaging President Chirac for supposedly sabotaging British diplomacy, and the French embassy in London was bombarded with hate-mail.
But it is also to be hoped that this Franco-British amity reflects something bigger: a belated recognition, perhaps, that in this age of globalisation and economic austerity, Britain and France have mutual interests in security, as in much else, that are most successfully addressed together. If it has taken two centre-right politicians with firm ideas about national sovereignty to see that, so be it.