Margaret Thatcher's famous budget rebate "victory" in Europe 25 years ago was actually a defeat which left her broken and in tears, it has been claimed.
French economist Jacques Attali was a senior adviser to President Francois Mitterrand when Prime Minister Thatcher demanded "my money back" at an EU summit in Fontainebleau in 1984.
Now 65, he says she lost the rebate battle because she had to accept only half of her "embarrassing" demands.
But Mrs Thatcher returned to London triumphant with a long-term deal to cut Britain's EU budget contribution - a deal still operating, and which has saved the Treasury billions of pounds in the last quarter of a century.
Since becoming Prime Minister five years earlier, Mrs Thatcher had stridently complained that the UK's net contributions to the euro-budget were too high - because the money clawed back in grants and subsidies were unfairly small. The row came to a head at the acrimonious Fontainebleau meeting of Europe's then 10 leaders when a deal was done to give the UK an annual rebate on the sums it paid into the Community coffers.
Mr Attali, interviewed for the BBC's The Record: Europe, screened this weekend on BBC World and BBC Parliament, says it was a "mistake" to give Mrs Thatcher any money back at all. He says it was a "silly agreement" which was actually forged in 1980 by the then French president Valery Giscard D'Estaing, in order to be re-elected.
The programme tells how Mrs Thatcher found herself bartering at the Fontainebleau talks to get at least half of the sum she wanted as a rebate. The bidding reached 65%, and she pleaded with Prescient Mitterrand to give her just one more percentage point to take home - and she returned to London with 66% of what she was after.
Mr Attali recalls: "Mrs Thatcher was asking something like 2000 ecus (a pre-single currency European accounting unit) and she ended up crying, crying in the middle of the meeting, accepting, begging half of it.
He goes on: "It was a defeat. Because she was coming there to get twice as much as she has got. And it was a defeat because she was hoping to get the Germans on her side in order to isolate the French presidency, but the Germans said no to Mrs Thatcher at the last minute conversation and she was defeated.
"Actually she cried. Mitterrand told me: 'She's broken like a piece of glass.' And she actually was. I was surprised to see that, she was really broken when she accepted the final deal."