France's Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault at the National Press Club (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Put yourselves for a moment in the shoes of the French ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thebault, as he stood at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

As he verbally eviscerated Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Thebault was fighting, as it were, for his country. And not only for his country, but for his own reputation and that of his embassy staff, and probably for some of their jobs, if not his own.

Under the circumstances it could only be described as a nuclear-grade attack -- perhaps the most savage speech from a diplomat ever delivered in the nation’s capital.