Britain and the US struck a security pact with Australia to provide nuclear-powered submarines but China and France are among the countries that have slammed the move
Boris Johnson has offered France an olive branch after it reacted furiously to a UK-brokered submarine deal which saw them lose a £47bn contract.
The Prime Minister insisted the UK’s relationship with its closest neighbour was “absolutely vital” as he listed joint defence projects.
Britain and the US last week struck a security pact with Australia which includes the US providing nuclear-powered submarines, a show of strength aimed at China.
But the AUKUS deal sparked a diplomatic row with France as it meant Canberra cancelled a £47bn order with Paris to provide diesel-powered subs.
France labelled Britain a “vassal” to the United States for its role in the deal but dismissed Britain as a “junior partner” in the trilateral relationship.
AFP via Getty Images)
A furious French President Emmanuel Macron recalled his country’s ambassadors to the US and America.
But French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it had opted not to recall it’s top diplomat in the UK because it was familiar with Britain’s “permanent opportunism”.
Europe minister Clement Beaune added: “We can see that this is a return into the American lap and a form of accepted vassalisation”.
Mr Johnson was asked whether he was indeed a ‘lap dog’ to US President Joe Biden on the plane to the United Nations New York.
He replied: “We are very, very proud of our relationship with France and it is of huge importance to this country.
“It is a very friendly relationship – and entente cordial – that goes back a century or more and it absolutely vital for us.
“Our love of France is ineradicable and what I would say is this AUKUS is not in any way meant to be zero sum,.
“It is not meant to be exclusionary, it is not something I don’t think anyone needs to worry about and particularly not our French friends.”
The PM cited a joint defence programme with France which simulates the testing of nuclear explosions.
“It’s called the Teutates, which I think is the Gaulish god of thunder, from my studies of Asterix. We don’t actually blow anything up,” he added.
“Anyway, so this is something that goes very, very deep; our love of France, our admiration of France is ineradicable.”
Mr Macron is not expected to be at the UN summit meaning Mr Johnson could avoid an embarrassing encounter.