There are many in Britain who oppose plans for a new-generation nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point. Some are against nuclear power on principle. Others dispute the terms of the contract and the sheer immensity of the cost. But few could have foreseen the Anglo-French farce that played out when, in a parody of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the British Government suddenly folded its tents and walked away from whatever remains of the Entente Cordiale

Theresa May, it must be said, had every legal right to review the situation, which was threatening to get out of hand, both for the UK and France. It may even be that, in the end – twenty years from now – France will thank her. Certainly the French unions – who want to build nuclear plants in France, not England – will be relieved.

But what a way to run a railroad!

The Prime Minister has sat in Cabinet for six years. She must have been present at least a dozen times when Hinkley Point was discussed. Did she raise any objections along the way, or did she just keep her mouth shut, reckoning that the issue was not her concern?

We could have said last year, or at any time in the last five years, that this was a step too far. But we didn’t. We just let it ride.

Someone has to take the blame, meaning, of course, that no one will. We are talking politics here. But let’s play the game. There’s no point in looking to David Cameron or George Osborne. They are gone. You won’t see them for dust. But what about Amber Rudd, now Home Secretary but previously the energy minister, and her predecessors, Ed Davey (a Lib Dem) and Chris Huhne? All of their fingerprints are on this fiasco. What, come to that, about Greg Clark, who, as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is now head of the department that, in theory, makes the decision? Is he the one who took a last look at the paperwork and said, Non?

Seriously, at what point, if any, did these individuals and their colleagues and advisers come to the conclusion that Hinkley Point was probably a white elephant? More to the point, why did they shift the main burden of responsibility onto Paris, only, when the French Government and EDF finally signed off, to say, “Oh, I don’t know … maybe we should think about this … I tell you what, we’ll get back to you”?

Was it because, as with Brexit, they never expected the thing to happen? Was it because they thought the French would pull the plug and that Britain could then cast itself as the injured party? If so, they will live to rue the day.

From the PM down, everyone in Britain needs to aceept that, as seen from Paris, France has once again been spurned by Perfidious Albion and that this will have a clear, knock-on affect on our efforts to secure a beneficial version of Brexit. Earlier this week, even as France, against its own interests, agreed to maintain its controversial immigration procedures in Calais, we were belly-aching about the appointment of a Frenchman to negotiate Brexit on behalf of the European Commission. Michel Barnier was anti-British, we said. He didn’t trust the Brits and he wanted us out bag-and-baggage. Well, how do you think M. Barnier feels today? What aperçus will the French Government and Jean-Claude Juncker be whispering in his ear?

The Government of François Hollande bent over backwards to secure the Hinkley Point deal. EDF, the state-owned electricity company, went through the torments of the damned. I don’t suggest that the best interests of Britain were at the forefront of their minds. They wanted to make as much money as possible and to provide a platform for further sales of their revolutionary nuclear technology. Is that so shocking? We would have done the same thing if things had been the other way round – which they couldn’t have been because we no longer know how to build nuclear power plants.

But to put the French through all this, and then to slap them in the face… that is unconscionable. For goodness sake, the marquees had been erected, the champagne was on ice. The band-leader was about to raise his baton. Talk about humiliation!

Be assured of one thing: the French will milk this for all it is worth. If Britain does decide, definitively, to walk away from this project, they had better have something sensational up their sleeve, not just for the energy needs of the British people over the next ten years but for our future relationship with France.