Sarkozy blames Mandelson for Irish 'No' vote in EU summit outburst
Nicolas Sarkozy has blamed the Irish voting 'no' in the EU treaty vote on Peter Mandelson, the current British Commissioner of the European Union for Trade. Sarkozy also blamed the world's starving children on him.
These accusastions actually made Gordon Brown support Mr. Mandelson, something that has not happened before between these two men.
EU leaders stayed up late arguing over how much pressure to put on Dublin to vote again, amid fears that the constitutional project could collapse.
Asked who should take responsibility for the outpouring of public hostility to the EU in Ireland, Mr Sarkozy said just one word: 'Mandelson'.
It was meant as a joke, but the French president has clashed repeatedly with the Labour spindoctor turned EU trade commissioner who is a figure of hate in France and Ireland for his tough talk against food subsidies during world trade negotiations.
Mr Sarkozy said issues which fuelled Irish concerns included euthanasia, abortion and the world trade talks - adding bluntly: 'A child dies of starvation every 30 seconds and the Commission wanted to reduce European agriculture production by 21 per cent during World Trade Organisation talks.
'This was really counterproductive.'
The EU is still reeling from last week's referendum, when the Irish voted by 54pc against the Lisbon Treaty, which was agreed last year to replace the proposed constitution.
Without the approval of all 27 member states it cannot go ahead next year as planned, prompting Brussels and EU superpowers France and Germany to try to force Ireland to think again.
Warm words in public about giving Ireland 'time and space' to consider its position could not disguise bitterness behind the scenes after it emerged that Mr Sarkozy had branded the Irish 'bloody fools'.
The French president, who takes over the EU presidency next month, threatened to prevent new countries - notably Croatia - from joining if Ireland refuses to come on board.
Mr Brown said Ireland should not be 'bullied' into a second referendum but has been reluctant to declare the Lisbon Treaty dead.