Seasoned political commentators often warn that you can't judge who has really got the best of a deal in the heated aftermath of difficult negotiations.

Winners turn to losers. Time undoes intentions. Details emerge that wipe out the good that seemed to have been done.

Will it be the same with the grand summit of European Union leaders in Brussels that produced the agreement-minus-one?

Since then, the German newspapers have been full of the triumph of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the demise of Britain. Television channels are running strap-lines reading "Britain against Europe".

As the mass-circulation Bild put it under the headline in English "Bye-bye, England": "Dear Britain. Europe without you is like fish without chips, like London without driving on the left, like Pils without froth."

And then the sting in the tail: "Do you really want to be a lonely island? If so, then be honest - and get completely out of the EU."

But the tone was one of sorrow rather than scorn. And also some humour; with a gentle ribbing about the alleged British habit of taking German towels off sun-loungers in holiday resorts, plus regret that England did not make it to Euro 2008 football championships in Austria and Switzerland ("We were sad that you weren't there").
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