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Opinion

L'état, c'est qui?

Clarke: raised his chapeau
to the Entente Cordiale

As the controversy over the proposed constitution for the EU rages, it's hard to know if former UK finance minister Kenneth Clarke's most recent contribution will alarm Europhiles or Europhobes most.

At a debate hosted by law firm Dechert, Clarke opposed a motion that the power of the European Union has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

Clarke touched on the agenda of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, plucked from post-presidential obscurity, supposedly at Jacques Chirac's insistence, to chair the convention on the future of the EU.

"It is one of the world's great myths that he is a federalist," said Clarke. "He sees himself as the embodiment of the French nation. The only question in his mind is, does he think he is Louis XIV or does he think he is Napoleon?"

Despite Clarke's eloquence, the motion was carried, and he met his Waterloo - or should that be his Blenheim?

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