UK minister to brush up on French presidents' names

A Foreign Office minister has been rebuked over his French after mispronouncing the name of President Francois Hollande.

Tory Lord Howell of Guildford referred to him as "President Holl-and-er" during a debate on relations with the newly elected socialist leader.

This irritated Labour's Lord Grenfell, a former head of external affairs in the European Office, who bemoaned a lack of precision by "successive governments" in voicing the surnames of French presidents.

The name of Mr Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, had often been made to rhyme with "tea cosy", he added, to laughter.

A chastened Lord Howell admitted he had never been much good at French and promised to brush up on it.

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