Boris Johnson pleaded for the furious French President to ‘get a grip’ as the fallout continued over his nuclear submarines pact with Australia and the US
Boris Johnson has urged Emmanuel Macron to “donnez-moi un break” as French fury continued over the Australian nuclear subs deal.
The Prime Minister said it was time for the French President to “prenez un grip” after a UK-brokered pact saw them lose a £47bn contract.
Britain’s relationship with its closest neighbour was already under strain amid rows over Channel migrant crossings and the Northern Ireland border.
On his way out to the United States, Mr Johnson had offered an olive branch to the French insisting the relationship was “absolutely vital” to the UK.
But even though several days have passed anger in Paris has not abated leading to the PM urging “our dearest friends” to calm down.
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 valuable order with Paris to provide diesel-powered subs.
Mr Johnson admitted that he had discussed the fall-out with US President Joe Biden in talks at the White House on Tuesday night.
After a visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he told reporters: “I just think it is time for some of our dearest friends around the world to ‘prenez un grip’ about all this and ‘donnez-moi un break’.
“Because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security it is three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.”
The PM added: “It is not exclusive, it is not trying to shoulder anybody out it is not adversarial towards China for instance.
“It is there to intensify links and friendship between three countries in a way that will be beneficial for things that we believe in.
“Good for the protection of democracy, freedom, human rights, equalities, the rule of law which underpins the free trade.
“So I find it very hard to see in this agreement anything not to like.”
Mr Macron has not attended the United Nations summit in New York meaning Mr Johnson has avoided a potentially embarrassing encounter.
France has labelled Britain a “vassal” to the United States for its role in the deal but also dismissed Britain as a “junior partner” in the trilateral relationship.
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”.
Asked about strained French-UK relations on his way out to the US, Mr Johnson had said: “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.”