Shurely shum mishtake…
The Financial Times is telling us that Denis MacShame, our very own minister for Europe, is accusing the European Union of trying to "punish" us for having a flexible and successful labour market.
Yet it does seem to be true. The egregious MacShame is having what looks perilously close to a lovers’ tiff with the object of his dreams, complaining to EU ambassadors that there was a determined effort to contain Britain in a "made-in-Brussels straitjacket".
FT reporters much have been choking on their Perrier water as they wrote of "strident comments" emanating from a minister who often criticises colleagues for "bashing Brussels". But now we see the passion ebbing away from the love affair and the FT tells us this throbbing swain is now frustrated by a love who is so critical of the British labour market.
The wounded MacShame, no doubt with tears flooding from his eyes, pleaded with the ambassadors to stop punishing him, hinting at the darker sadistic tendencies of his love, when he spoke of his surprise at "the desire of so many in Brussels to punish Britain."
All they were after was "rigid labour markets", he wept, and some even wanted "straitjackets", thus painting a pictures of torrid love and strange bedroom practices, the like of which we could scarcely imagine.
And even that was not all. His lover was imposing "bureaucratic inflexibility" and preventing workers to shaping their working hours that suit individual needs of employees. Mercifully we were spared the handcuffs and whips.
All MacShame wanted, he told the ambassadors between sobs, was for them to tell their governments of the need to "say goodbye". What, a parting of ways, do we hear? A final divorce? Sadly, no. He wants them to bid adieu to "out-of-date thinking", so he can ride off into the sunset with his lover and seek "a flexible route into the workplace."
Whatever that is, it sounds painful. But, if it keeps him happy…