And for the EU’s latest foreign policy disaster (and one that reflects enormously badly on Gordon Brown if the story is true), the Telegraph claims that Baroness Ashton is on the brink of resigning after only months in her job:
“Every day is an uphill struggle,” said a European Commission official. “No one predicts she can stay five years, not even she.”
Lady Ashton has come under fire from powerful countries led by France, for allowing the Commission to seize too much control of a new EU diplomatic service that she is building from scratch.
Her lack of political authority has been blamed for a failure to stamp out bureaucratic Brussels in-fighting over who will control the new European External Action Service, with 7,000 diplomats manning over 130 embassies around the world.
Bitter turf wars over budgets and senior posts mean the diplomatic corps will be delayed, a situation that has angered governments and embarrassed the EU on the global stage.
Following one recent row, she allegedly threatened to walk out of her job and had to be talked out of resigning on the spot by diplomats and officials.
Of course, this may be wishful thinking by the Telegraph, but it’s another shocking misstep if true…
Update: And the plot thickens. According to the Daily Mail, Peter Mandelson is floating the resignation rumours because he expects to be Foreign Secretary and needs to find a job for David Miliband.
An Ashton aide told the MailOnline the report had ‘Mandelson’s fingerprints all over it.’ Mandelson wants to force Ashton to resign and hand over the EU job to David Miliband, the source said.
Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, was offered Ashton’s job last year but refused it, reportedly because he didn’t want to spend ‘years on a plane’.
But does Mandelson really expect Labour to form the next government? And how could he push Ashton out between now and Gordon Brown naming his cabinet after the election?