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William Hague accuses Brown over deal with France on EU jobs which will sell out the City of London

Picture 1 In my post yesterday morning on the Right's reaction to the appointment of Herman Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton to their new European Union jobs, I alluded to concerns among Tories in Brussels about the fact that it was likely that a Commissioner from France or Germany would be responsible for the internal market and financial services.

The French newspaper, Le Monde, has suggested that the appointment of Baroness Ashton was indeed only agreed by the French on condition that a French MEP, Michel Barnier, be appointed the Commissioner (and indeed a Vice President of the Commission) responsible for... the internal market and financial services.

As today's Independent reports, William Hague is demanding the Government explain what has been agreed behind closed doors:

"If Gordon Brown has done a deal that would mean a French commissioner being in charge of the economic issues that affect Britain the most then that could be a serious concern. Our French partners have a different view on market issues that touch on Britain's vital economic interests. I look forward to the Government taking this opportunity to be completely open about what has been agreed."

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, Mr Hague adds:

"The financial services sector is an area of extreme sensitivity for the British national interest. It is of crucial importance to the future of a pro-growth EU that there is no retreat from the principle of a free market within the EU."

Michael Fallon, the senior Conservative MP on the Treasury Select Commitee, echoed these concerns on Radio 4's The World Tonight yesterday evening (24 mins 30 second in, but only available on the BBC iPlayer for one week).

He said that the City would be "extremely alarmed" at the prospect of a "protectionist, anti-London and anti-market" Commissioner taking such a crucial portfolio and suggested that surrendering one of the big economic portfolios at the Commission (ie trade) for the position of High Representative on Foreign Affairs was detrimental to the UK's interests. He said that it was a case of "game, set and match to the French" in their desire to add to the regulatory burden on the City of London.

> Today's Times has a good account of the wheeling and dealing that went on over the allocation of jobs and suggests that a number of other British names were considered for the High Representative before Baroness Ashton, making here the fourth choice for the post.

Jonathan Isaby


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