INTERESTING BIT of behind-the-scenes maneuvering:

President Bush’s speech to European leaders last week was toned down at the last moment to avoid giving his support to the proposed EU constitution, after a strenuous lobbying campaign by conservative activists in Washington.

Leading British Euro-sceptics were enlisted to help win a battle within the White House over how far Mr Bush should go in endorsing a more unified EU, after reports began to circulate in Washington that his planned speech would express backing for the constitution.

Of course, a strong Bush endorsement might have led Chirac and Schroeder to reconsider their support . . . .