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No, Theresa May hasn't been pushed to the side of G20 photos because of Brexit

2019-09-01 点击次数 :298次

It is a wonderfully symbolic image, the prime minister of a post-referendum UK sidelined in the official photos at G20. Cue a thousand opinion pieces about how it reflects Britain’s need to readjust to our place in the world now we are out of the loop in EU talks and on course for Brexit, .

Just one problem: it’s not really the case. The protocol for setting up the leaders’ photos at the without causing offence or diplomatic incident is fiendishly complex, but one of the principles is that longer-serving heads of state or leaders are placed nearer the middle of the photo.

Here’s the lineup coming together ready for the official photo in London in 2009, with Barack Obama in the second row and Angela Merkel out on the far right – with no suggestion that the US and Germany weren’t important members of the G20 any more.

Leaders assemble for a group photo opportunity during the G20 summit at the ExCel Centre in east London in April 2009. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

A year later, in Canada, the June G20 summit was the first attended by David Cameron, freshly installed as British prime minister. Here he is, also on the fringe of the picture, without an unfavourable referendum decision in sight.

Leaders from around the world pose for the G20 summit ‘family photograph’ in June 2010. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Two years later, at Los Cabos in Mexico, Cameron was near the middle, and it was France’s newly elected François Hollande on the edge of the photo. In 2013, the G20 met in St Petersburg, but Hollande had still not made his way into the centre of the group, meaning he doesn’t feature at all in the more informal images to emerge from the photo session.

G20 leaders in St Petersburg in 2013. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

So yes, the photo of May in China does handily allow you to make a point about Britain being isolated but no, she wasn’t put there as diplomatic punishment because the UK voted for .

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