A sneering Nicolas Sarkozy has attacked Britain for being a country with 'no industry'.
The embattled French President, who is hoping to be re-elected this spring, made the extraordinary outburst as he defended a VAT rise during a prime time national TV broadcast.
He had just announced a 1.6 per cent hike in VAT in a move designed to boost France’s failing economy.
But when a journalist pointed out that Britain had experienced a rise in prices after increasing its VAT contributions, Mr Sarkozy - who in 2009 claimed the UK rise had ‘absolutely failed’ to stimulate the economy - spat out the words: 'The United Kingdom has no industry any more.'
He said he was borrowing the measure from Germany, arguing that it had 'helped to boost German competitiveness' and had not led to a rise in prices.
The 11th-hour measures to boost French competitiveness - and improving his economic record - are being described by analysts as a risky political gamble as the hugel unpopular Mr Sarkozy lags behind Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the polls.
Opinion polls also suggest the majority of the population is against an increase in sales tax, which will eat into their spending power. Read More