There was consternation in diplomatic circles yesterday, as Theresa May’s notoriously good people skills did not convince Michel Barnier to resume talks without a resolution on the divorce bill.
The British tactic of having another person repeat what David Davis said without making a new offer has somehow not caused the unified 27 EU countries to break rank.
Simon Guillaumes, political correspondent for Le Monde, said that cultural differences could have played a part in the mission’s failure.
“Michel Barnier is still a Frenchman at heart. I know this will sound weird to you but we prefer dealing with people who don’t tell bizarre stories about running through fields, haven’t sent buses around the country telling foreigners to go away and occasionally smile with their eyes.
“For example, it’s very quirky but a French politician who refuses to debate or meet with people could never win an election.
“Maybe it’s something to do with the language but there is a tendency in France to associate high positions with a certain dignity and aura of competence.
“So when you send people like your Boris Johnson, it’s difficult for us to understand why they have their job. And why can’t Mr Davis spend more than three hours in Brussels?”
Sources inside Number 10 claimed that Theresa May made significant overtures to the EU commission by restating the British position slowly and loudly.
She also frequently paused to check if everything was “très bien?”