Boris Johnson today further inflamed a diplomatic row with France after he told Emmanuel Macron to ‘get a grip’ over the new AUKUS defence pact, prompting a furious backlash from Paris.
The Prime Minister urged Mr Macron to ‘give me a break’ as he dismissed French anger about the deal.
The agreement between Australia, the US and the UK will see the former secure its first ever fleet of nuclear-powered submarines but it means Canberra has cancelled an existing contract with France for a fleet of diesel-electric subs.
Mr Johnson delivered the remarks in ‘franglais’ and the comments have added to the strain on relations with France.
One French diplomatic source told Reuters: ‘”Global Britain”, it seems, is aimed at projecting Britain around the world, while marginalising Europe. We can’t accept that.’
France last week accused Australia of a ‘stab in the back’ after the AUKUS deal was announced.
Mr Johnson said it is now time for Mr Macron to ‘prenez un grip’ and ‘donnez-moi un break’.
The Prime Minister said he believes the AUKUS deal is ‘fundamentally a great step forward for global security’ and it is ‘not trying to shoulder anybody out’.
US President Joe Biden is expected to address the dispute with Mr Macron in a telephone call scheduled to take place later today.
Mr Macron’s office said the French President expects ‘clarifications and clear commitments’ from Mr Biden on the issue.
The call, reportedly requested by Mr Biden, will see the two leaders discuss the ‘crisis of trust’ between the AUKUS nations and France, Mr Macron’s office said.
Boris Johnson today told Emmanuel Macron to ‘get a grip’ over the new AUKUS defence pact and to ‘give me a break’ as he dismissed French anger about the deal
Speaking in Washington, Mr Johnson said it is now time for the French President to ‘prenez un grip’ over the pact
The AUKUS deal will see the three nations share military technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber defence, quantum computing and long-range strike capabilities.
But it is the submarine element of the deal that has prompted the furious reaction from France.
Canberra has ripped up a deal with Paris worth an estimated £30billion that was struck in 2016 to provide 12 diesel-electric submarines.
The decision to walk away from the contract triggered a diplomatic storm as Mr Macron recalled his ambassadors to the US and Australia.
The French government is demanding Australia pay compensation for walking away from the old deal.
Speaking in Washington DC, Mr Johnson said the backlash to the pact had ‘come up’ during a meeting with Mr Biden in the White House last night.
But he said: ‘All I want to say about that is I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip (get a grip) about all this and donnez-moi un break (give me a break).
‘Because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder-to-shoulder, creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.
US President Joe Biden is expected to address the dispute with Mr Macron in a telephone call scheduled to take place today
The agreement between Australia, the US and the UK will see the former secure its first ever fleet of nuclear-powered submarines
‘It is not exclusive. It is not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China, for instance.
‘It is there to intensify links and friendship between three countries in a way that I think will be beneficial for things that we believe in.’
The Prime Minister said he believed the defence pact will be ‘good for the protection of democracy, freedom, of human rights, equalities, the rule of law’.
He added: ‘I find it very hard to see in this agreement anything not to like.’