Questions that ought to be asked of British foreign policy go unarticulated. Why did the ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ (to use the Cabinet Office’s preferred term) become a British priority? Why is the Royal Navy sailing ships through the Taiwan Strait? Why is Britain conducting military training programmes in the Persian Gulf and ten countries from Gambia to Somalia? Why did the UK become so heavily involved in the atrocities committed in Yemen?
The two agreements struck by Britain and France on defence co-operation this week have not brought citizens out on the streets of Paris. There were worries – expressions of anger even – about Sarkozy’s decision to take France back into Nato’s integrated command structure last year, but this is different. The fresh-faced Cameron and the embattled, less rosy-cheeked Sarkozy are like two sons whose parents have frittered away their family fortunes: they must now find common cause and drastic economies, which means moving in together if they wish to remain in the ritzy part of town reserved for big military spenders.