Diplomats, so the saying used to go, are officials who go abroad and lie for their countries. Since we joined what became the EU, however, the saying has changed slightly. They are now officials who go abroad and lie to their country.
This change illustrates, to an extent, the extraordinary love affair between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose officials are the most enthusiastic advocates for the project, and who have been a central part of the deception that has kept the British public in the dark about its destination.
But all that might coming to an end, courtesy of Gordon Brown, who seems to have hit upon the formula for turning FCO officials against the EU.
The opportunity will come when, as from 1 July next year, the UK assumes the six-monthly rotating presidency of the EU. And, as is now well known, running the presidency is extremely expensive – Ahern’s little escapade cost the Irish taxpayers €60.23m, after sponsorship had been taken into account.
But that is not good enough for our Gordon. To help fund the presidency, as well as paying for the G8 summit which the UK is also hosting next July, he is demanding that 80 senior FCO mandarins should be put out to grass. As a result, according to The Times, one FCO official has described morale as "plummeting".
This may be the best news we have heard for a long time – could it even be the end of a love affair?