A leading French politician has accused David Cameron and George Osborne of making "spiteful and inappropriate" attacks on the state of her country's economy.
Environment minister Segolene Royal - who was beaten to the presidency in 2007 by Nicolas Sarkozy - said the senior Tories appeared to have abandoned "the traditional sense of fair play".
Calling for solidarity among European countries, she cautioned that "what goes around comes around" - pointing out that some aspects of the UK's finances were not as healthy as those across the Channel.
In his Budget statement, the Chancellor mocked France's high rate of unemployment, quipping that one English county - Yorkshire - had created more jobs than the whole of the country.
He and the Prime Minister also pointed directly to the UK's nearest continental neighbour as a lesson of why Labour - whose leader Ed Miliband closely associated himself with the approach of Socialist Party president Francois Hollande - would be bad for Britain.
"Our economy is growing seven times faster than France's. Imagine if Miliband had been free to pursue his French dream: the fallout would be felt in catastrophic job losses, falling living standards, eye-watering debt and fast-diminishing hope in our future," Mr Cameron wrote in the Sunday Times.
Asked about the attacks, Ms Royal told BBC2's Newsnight: "I am very surprised by what I consider to be something which seems so far removed from the traditional British sense of fair play.
"It is rather condescending. It seems a little spiteful and inappropriate."
European countries "should all stand together when any country is in difficulty", she said.
"When a country like the UK is facing difficulty, we don't make fun. In your country your budget deficit is much greater than it is in France, we don't have take pleasure from it.
"In the end, what goes around comes around."