Richard North, 18/06/2004  

Seconds after five pm, an excitable Tim Franks, the BBC's Brussels correspondent, told the Radio 4 "PM programme" that it "could even happen while we're on air". Entirely predictably – and as predicted by this Blog – the assembled "EU leaders" are on the brink of deciding that "failure to strike a deal was unthinkable" and agreeing to the constitution.

With Irish foreign minister Dick Roche saying that agreement was "tantalisingly close", we have moved from situation where there were so many disputed areas that any agreement looked impossible, to the point where the stinking corpse has been resurrected and given an injection of life.

In a few days, now, it looks like it will lurch out into the daylight. Then the task of putting it back in its grave, where it rightly belongs, will commence.

Nevertheless, the "EU leaders" have yet to make up their minds on the Commission president, although the BBC is fairly sure that Herr Hofstid has been deep-sixed and the hunt is on for a compromise candidate.

However, since Blair has got enough of what he wanted to be able to claim his "victory", the "balance of dissatisfaction" must be maintained. It looks like Jacques will get the pick of the crop, and will chose deliberately in order to hack off the Brits as much as possible.

Meanwhile, stand by for an announcement…

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