by Ray Fleming

David Cameron's crass and ill-mannered refusal to meet Francois Hollande when he visited Britain during the French presidential election campaign is coming back to haunt him. Another presidential candidate will be in Britain later this week and he has been invited by Mr Cameron to visit No 10 Downing Street -- Mitt Romney, US Republican candidate, of course. What has he got that M. Hollande did not have? A lot of money is probably one answer.

The Hollande business was made worse by Mr Cameron's rash and ill-advised public endorsement of Nicholas Sarkozy for the French presidency. The Republican party is also said to have raised eyebrows when the Conservative prime minister allowed President Obama to give him the red carpet treatment on his visit Washington in March in an election year. Actually, I don't believe that. Research I undertook at the time showed that the American media took almost no notice of Mr Cameron's visit to the US or of the way he was treated by Barack Obama. It seems that the decision to invite Mr Romney to No 10 has been taken. But there remains the question of whether there will be a handshake at the door of No 10 or only inside for the official photographer. Yesterday a Downing Street spokesman could not be sure, saying “We have been through this a hundred times in recent weeks.”

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