Papers beef up anti-French feeling

11 November 1999

Papers beef up anti-French feeling

INDICATIONS that France will refuse to lift its ban on British beef dominates the front pages of most of todays newspapers.

A “Stitch-up” proclaims the Daily Mail in its lead headline, describing the French snub as an “almost contemptuous insult” and accusing the government of being “hopelessly naïve”.

Its comment says the governments beef-on-the-bone ban shows an evident lack of faith in British beef which only serves to encourage the French.

The Times calls for legal proceedings to be launched against the French government, even at risk of straining relations further. It says Britain cannot be seen to be back-pedalling.

As legal action could take years, the newspaper says the government should seek an interim injunction ordering an effective lifting the ban immediately.

In the interests of a true single market with a place for British farmers, “the French must be forced to eat their own words,” states The Times.

The Express headline “Frances Two-finger Salute to Blair” echoes a jibe from Conservative Party leader William Hague.

The newspaper says thousands of jobs would be at risk on both sides of the Channel if a tit-for-tat trade war broke out, but says France would be the bigger loser.

In its comment The Express defends beleaguered agriculture minister Nick Brown, dismissing calls for his resignation as “puerile”.

Meanwhile, the Press Association has reported that the European Commission, Britain and France will hold more “technical talks” on the beef crisis in Brussels tomorrow.

It adds that Tony Blair is due to discuss the matter by telephone with Commission President Romani Prodi.

“Punishing Mr Brown is an easy option and would be misplaced anger.

“It is not Mr Browns fault that the French are behaving illegally.”

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