After a lengthy spell in diplomatic limbo, João Vale de Almeida has – finally – been awarded full recognition as the EU’s first post-Brexit ambassador in London.
De Almeida, a genial Portuguese national who formerly served as EU ambassador in Washington, presented his credentials to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, describing his meeting with her Majesty as “excellent”.
His formal admission to the Court of St James ends a spat engineered by the Johnson government which sought to downgrade relations with the EU, part of a general campaign to keep relations, shall we say, Frosty.
The Foreign Office – back in the days when Dominic Raab was in charge – had argued that the EU was not a state and therefore deserved the status of an international organisation rather than a full diplomatic mission.
The calculated snub enraged Brussels and other EU governments, but de Almeida sought to smooth tensions yesterday. He cast himself as an “all weather ambassador”, managing up and downs just like the autumn morning sunshine and rain in London.
Diplomats, businessmen, media and think-tankers gathered for the “vin d’honneur” at the reception at the EU mission in Smith Square, Westminster, were less generous.
Several complained about Boris Johnson’s sabotage tactics, while one diplomatic veteran said UK-French relations were at their worst in decades, thanks in part to President Macron’s petulance.
At this rate, we should be thankful while autumn lasts. It could be a long diplomatic winter.