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    Frank and I, unlike the civil servants, were still puzzled that such a
    proposal as the Europass could even be seriously under consideration by
    the FCO. We can both see clearly that it is wonderful ammunition for the
    anti-Europeans. I asked Humphrey if the Foreign Office doesn't realise
    how damaging this would be to the European ideal?

    'I'm sure they do, Minister, he said. That's why they support it.'

    This was even more puzzling, since I'd always been under the impression
    that the FO is pro-Europe. 'Is it or isn't it?' I asked Humphrey.

    'Yes and no,' he replied of course, 'if you'll pardon the
    expression. The Foreign Office is pro-Europe because it is really
    anti-Europe. In fact the Civil Service was united in its desire to make
    sure the Common Market didn't work. That's why we went into it.'

    This sounded like a riddle to me. I asked him to explain further. And
    basically his argument was as follows: Britain has had the same foreign
    policy objective for at least the last five hundred years - to create a
    disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against
    the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and
    Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Italians
    and Germans. [The Dutch rebellion against Phillip II of Spain, the
    Napoleonic Wars, the First World War, and the Second World War - Ed.]

    In other words, divide and rule. And the Foreign Office can see no
    reason to change when it has worked so well until now.

    I was aware of this, naturally, but I regarded it as ancient history.
    Humphrey thinks that it is, in fact, current policy. It was necessary
    for us to break up the EEC, he explained, so we had to get inside. We
    had previously tried to break it up from the outside, but that didn't
    work. [A reference to our futile and short-lived involvement in EFTA,
    the European Free Trade Association, founded in 1960 and which the UK
    left in 1972 - Ed.] Now that we're in, we are able to make a complete
    pig's breakfast out of it. We've now set the Germans against the French,
    the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch... and
    the Foreign office is terribly happy. It's just like old time.

    I was staggered by all of this. I thought that the all of us who are
    publicly pro-European believed in the European ideal. I said this to Sir
    Humphrey, and he simply chuckled.

    So I asked him: if we don't believe in the European Ideal, why are we
    pushing to increase the membership?

    'Same reason,' came the reply. 'It's just like the United Nations. The
    more members it has, the more arguments you can stir up, and the more
    futile and impotent it becomes.'

    This all strikes me as the most appalling cynicism, and I said so.

    Sir Humphrey agreed completely. 'Yes Minister. We call it
    diplomacy. It's what made Britain great, you know.'

[pp.119-120 _The complete Yes Minister // The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister
by the Right Hon. James Hacker MP._ v "The Writing on the Wall" *]

Blame transfer protocol complete. S.E.P. field now fully enaged.

Nicholas Clark



5.8.9 RC1
    A jumbo jet touched down, with BURANDAN AIRWAYS written on the side. I
    was hugely impressed. British Airways are having to pawn their Concordes,
    and here is this little tiny African state with its own airline, jumbo
    jets and all.

    I asked Bernard how many planes Burandan Airways had. 'None,' he said.

    I told him not to be silly and use his eyes. 'No Minister, it belongs to
    Freddie Laker,' he said. 'They chartered it last week and repainted it
    specially.' Apparently most of the Have-Nots (I mean, LDCs) do this - at
    the opening of the UN General Assembly the runways of Kennedy Airport are
    jam-packed with phoney flag-carriers. 'In fact,' said Bernard with a sly
    grin, 'there was one 747 that belonged to nine different African airlines
    in a month. They called it the mumbo-jumbo.'

    While we watched nothing much happening on the TV except the mumbo-jumbo
    taxiing around Prestwick and the Queen looking a bit chilly, Bernard gave
    me the next day's schedule and explained that I was booked on the night
    sleeper from King's Cross to Edinburgh because I had to vote in a
    three-line whip at the House tonight and would have to miss the last
    plane. Then the commentator, in that special hushed BBC voice used for any
    occasion with which Royalty is connected, announced reverentially that we
    were about to catch our first glimpse of President Selim.

    And out of the plane stepped Charlie. My old friend Charlie Umtali. We
    were at LSE together. Not Selim Mohammed at all, but Charlie.

    Bernard asked me if I were sure. Silly question. How could you forget a
    name like Charlie Umtali?

    I sent Bernard for Sir Humphrey, who was delighted to hear that we now
    know something about our official visitor.

    Bernard's official brief said nothing. Amazing! Amazing how little the FCO
    has been able to find out. Perhaps they were hoping it would all be on the
    car radio. All the brief says is that Colonel Selim Mohammed had converted
    to Islam some years ago, they didn't know his original name, and therefore
    knew little of his background.

    I was able to tell Humphrey and Bernard /all/ about his background.
    Charlie was a red-hot political economist, I informed them. Got the top
    first. Wiped the floor with everyone.

    Bernard seemed relieved. 'Well that's all right then.'

    'Why?' I enquired.

    'I think Bernard means,' said Sir Humphrey helpfully, 'that he'll know how
    to behave if he was at an English University. Even if it was the LSE.' I
    never know whether or not Humphrey is insulting me intentionally.

    Humphrey was concerned about Charlie's political colour. 'When you said
    that he was red-hot, were you speaking politically?'

    In a way I was. 'The thing about Charlie is that you never quite know
    where you are with him. He's the sort of chap who follows you into a
    revolving door and comes out in front.'

    'No deeply held convictions?' asked Sir Humphrey.

    'No. The only thing Charlie was committed too was Charlie.'

    'Ah, I see. A politician, Minister.'

[p44 _The complete Yes Minister // The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister by
the Right Hon. James Hacker MP._ ii "The Official Visit" *]

Nicholas Clark

* Very very funny, timeless, and scarily topical, even 28 years later. See


Amend note for Changes 984 and 985
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Amend note for missing Changes around 872 ~ 922
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   The Mighty TIMINATOR has GOBBLED UP these changes!
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