The New European - - Agenda -

Hir­ing one for­eign sec­re­tary who com­pares the Eu­ro­pean Union to mass-mur­der­ing to­tal­i­tar­ian states may be re­garded as a mis­for­tune; hir­ing two looks like care­less­ness.

And so it was that, just un­der two years af­ter let­ting Boris John­son get away with warn­ing Brus­sels against “pun­ish­ment beat­ings” for Brexit “in the man­ner of some World War Two movie”, Theresa May had to re­buke Jeremy Hunt for the Tory con­fer­ence speech in which he likened the EU to the Soviet Union.

Was May’s slap­down for Hunt’s stu­pid­ity – at first, Glenn Hod­dle-style, he claimed he’d ‘never said them things’ un­til the Tories re­leased a video of him in­ton­ing “the EU was set up to pro­tect free­dom; it was the Soviet Union that stopped peo­ple leav­ing”?

Was it for his poor tim­ing at a del­i­cate stage in ne­go­ti­a­tions? Or was the whole thing cooked up be­tween he and May in ad­vance?

What­ever the truth, it seems bizarre that one of May’s first team and his sub­sti­tute should think it a good idea to go in studs-up on the op­po­si­tion when her wider squad are be­ing coached to pull out of 50/50 balls wher­ever nec­es­sary.

This week, the govern­ment ad­ver­tised for a head of project man­age­ment in part of the DEXEU of­fice cov­er­ing vet­eri­nary medicines. The job, un­sur­pris­ingly, is billed as “fast-paced and un­pre­dictable”.

But the ad­vert goes on to say: “We need some­one who can com­mu­ni­cate in a non-con­fronta­tional man­ner... in­ter­ested par­ties may have di­ver­gent opin­ions so you must be tact­ful. You must en­joy cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing pos­i­tive, hon­est, pro­fes­sional, sup­port­ive and trust­ing work­ing re­la­tion­ships.”

If the govern­ment can spec­ify this skill set for the per­son in charge of doggy cough drops, shouldn’t they also do so for the for­eign sec­re­tary?

Photo: Ste­fan Rousseau / PA Wire

RE­BUKED: Jeremy Hunt

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