Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

3 November 2010

Unreconstructed Frenchman says ‘England’ instead of ‘Britain’

Frenchman: President Nicolas Sarkozy

Occasion: signing of defence pact between the UK and France, 2 November 2010

Oh mon dieu! What a gaffe! French president Nicolas Sarkozy unwittingly (or perhaps not?) committed the ultimate faux pas yesterday when he stated that the military co-operation pact he had just signed was with an entity known as ‘England’, which, as we know, has no legal personality to enter into such deals. In fact, Sarkozy corrected himself, saying first ‘Great Britain’ and then ‘England’ to make the point clear to his ‘Gallic’ audience.

Fortunately, the voice-over translation kicked in to ‘correctly’ correct this unfortunate oversight and relayed Mr Sarkozy’s words to the British audience as referring to ‘Britain’ only. However, I can’t resist quoting Mr Sarkozy’s words in full. Pardon my French.

Toutes les conditions sont réunies pour une relation absolument exceptionnelle entre la Grande-Bretagne et la France, l’Angleterre et la France” [“All the conditions are united in favour of an exceptional relationship between Great Britain and France, England and France”] 


Didn’t the man realise that, by saying the unspeakable in this way, he was endangering the very entente militaire he had just put his name to? But it seemed that France’s commitment to the accord was about more than the British pragmatism that David Cameron made his theme, but was indeed about a friendly rivalry and mutual self-interest between France and England. As the president went on to jest:

Le chèque britannique n’est pas la raison principale qui pousse le peuple français spontanément vers l’Angleterre” [“The British checkbook is not the main reason that impels the French people spontaneously towards England”] 


M***e! It’s that word again! But fortunately, the British diplomatic service and media glossed over these linguistic indiscretions, so that the British public wouldn’t be aware of them .

For my part, I’ve got renewed respect for Mr Sarkozy. At least he realises that le perfide Albion is still a force – but perhaps not a military one – to be reckoned with!



  1. You missed his Welsh gaffe (as reported exclusively in the Western Mail). During a remembrance day ceremony he thanked the English, Scottish and Irish soldiers who had given their lives for France. And old Big Ears was standing right next to him at the time!

    Comment by Hendre — 3 November 2010 @ 12.26 pm | Reply

  2. England has long condoned using England to describe Britain, unsurprisingly no Englishman or woman seemed to be bothered that Scotland, Wales and other nations have been insulted and ignored. So what hypocrites that the English suddenly wake up and start moaning about being ignored. We have deserve what we get.

    Comment by Englander — 3 November 2010 @ 6.34 pm | Reply

    • Sorry “Englander” I agree with Michele, where were you when T Blair set devolution in motion, and we (the English) weren’t even asked if we wanted our island chopped into bite sized chunks for the benefit of the EU. “non of your (the English) business” we were told so no referendum for us to comment either way!!!, I’ll tell you what, if we had been asked, the idea would have got a big fat raspberry for sure.

      Scotland and Wales ignored what a joke!,

      “The English suddenly wake up and start moaning” excuse me but we have “been moaning” since 1997 and the only response we get is to be branded racist or little Englanders, aided and abetted by self loathing English people.

      Do you realise that there are 50 million or so stateless English people now living in the former nation known as England, we have all been airbrushed out of existence.

      Comment by BobShaw — 4 November 2010 @ 6.37 pm | Reply

  3. “unsurprisingly no Englishman or woman seemed to be bothered that Scotland, Wales and other nations have been insulted and ignored”

    Not bothered? After thirteen years of having it consistently drummed into us by the “insulted and ignored” in remarkably similar tones as yours – English? somehow I doubt it.

    Comment by Michele — 4 November 2010 @ 1.37 am | Reply

  4. In fact it’s incredibly common in France to hear people say England when they should say the UK. There is much confusion and many see Scotland and Wales as parts of England, the GB or UK tags being just a snob names for the latter.

    I’ve heard various British citizens including Blair and the UK ambassador to France say Angleterre when they meant Royaume-Uni.

    Comment by Philip R Hosking — 21 November 2010 @ 5.18 pm | Reply

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