‘Freedoms need to be defended’: Liz Truss slaps down France in row over Aussie sub deal

New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has waded into the growing row with France over a nuclear submarine deal with Australia, telling Paris bluntly that ‘freedoms need to be defended’.

She lashed out amid an astonishing diplomatic spat triggered by the Aukus deal that will see the US and UK supply Canberra with atomic subs, replacing an agreement to acquire French diesel-electric underwater vessels.

The new arrangement is seen as a marker by the Western allies against Chinese aggression towards its Indo-Pacific neighbours, upgrading Australia’s defensive capabilities.

France last night intensified the diplomatic war by dismissing Boris Johnson as an opportunist and a mere ‘vassal’ of the United States. 

Europe Minister Clement Beaune suggested that Brexit had seen the UK swap Europe for ‘a return into the American lap’.

But Ms Truss, who only replaced Dominic Raab as the UK’s top diplomat last week, defended the agreement.

Writing in the Telegraph she said it showed Britain’s readiness to be ‘hard-headed’ in defence of its interests.

She said Britain would always be a ‘fierce champion’ of freedom and free enterprise around the world.

‘But freedoms need to be defended, so we are also building strong security ties around the world,’ she wrote.

‘That is why last week the Prime Minister announced, alongside our friends President Biden and Prime Minister Morrison, the creation of a new security partnership called Aukus.

‘It shows our readiness to be hard-headed in defending our interests and challenging unfair practices and malign acts.’

Writing in the Telegraph Ms Truss said it showed Britain's readiness to be 'hard-headed' in defence of its interests.

Writing in the Telegraph Ms Truss said it showed Britain's readiness to be 'hard-headed' in defence of its interests.

Writing in the Telegraph Ms Truss said it showed Britain’s readiness to be ‘hard-headed’ in defence of its interests.

he lashed out amid an astonishing diplomatic spat triggered by the Aukus deal, that will see the US and UK supply Canberra with atomic subs, replacing a deal to acquire French diesel-electric underwater vessels.

he lashed out amid an astonishing diplomatic spat triggered by the Aukus deal, that will see the US and UK supply Canberra with atomic subs, replacing a deal to acquire French diesel-electric underwater vessels.

he lashed out amid an astonishing diplomatic spat triggered by the Aukus deal, that will see the US and UK supply Canberra with atomic subs, replacing a deal to acquire French diesel-electric underwater vessels.

France last night intensified the diplomatic war by dismissing Boris Johnson as an opportunist and a mere 'vassal' of the United States.

France last night intensified the diplomatic war by dismissing Boris Johnson as an opportunist and a mere 'vassal' of the United States.

France last night intensified the diplomatic war by dismissing Boris Johnson as an opportunist and a mere ‘vassal’ of the United States.

The pact does not make the design of Australia's new submarines clear, but they will be based on previous US and UK designs. Pictured above is a cross-section of Britain's Astute-class nuclear attack subs, which is likely to mirror the new vessels

The pact does not make the design of Australia's new submarines clear, but they will be based on previous US and UK designs. Pictured above is a cross-section of Britain's Astute-class nuclear attack subs, which is likely to mirror the new vessels

The pact does not make the design of Australia’s new submarines clear, but they will be based on previous US and UK designs. Pictured above is a cross-section of Britain’s Astute-class nuclear attack subs, which is likely to mirror the new vessels

President Emmanuel Macron triggered a diplomatic storm by recalling his ambassadors to the US and Australia over the deal, dubbed by the French media as an ‘Indo-Pacific Trafalgar’.

Mr Macron was outraged by the announcement last week of the Aukus alliance, which will see Australia given the technology to build nuclear-powered submarines to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea.

The deal – which the French were told about only a few hours in advance – scuppered a separate multibillion-dollar agreement over submarines that Paris had signed with Canberra. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dubbed the opportunist 'fifth wheel on the carriage' by a furious Paris who are still reeling at the new submarine pact between the UK, US and Australia

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dubbed the opportunist 'fifth wheel on the carriage' by a furious Paris who are still reeling at the new submarine pact between the UK, US and Australia

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dubbed the opportunist ‘fifth wheel on the carriage’ by a furious Paris who are still reeling at the new submarine pact between the UK, US and Australia

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the ‘exceptional decision’ to recall France’s ambassadors had been made by Mr Macron because of the ‘exceptional gravity’ of the situation.

Mr Le Drian aid his country was fully justified in recalling its Ambassadors from Washington and Canberra. But when asked on the France 2 radio station why the ambassador to London had not been recalled, Mr Le Drian suggested there was no need.

France was familiar with Britain’s ‘permanent opportunism’ said Mr Le Drian and said Mr Johnson was a ‘fifth wheel on the carriage’ – meaning he was a ‘spare wheel’ in the deal.

Such language will put huge strain on relations between Britain and France – which are already under severe stress over such issues as migrant boats arriving in England from the Calais area.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) described President Biden's deal as a 'unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision' amid French fury that it triggered cancelation of an Australian agreement to buy French diesel powered submarines

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) described President Biden's deal as a 'unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision' amid French fury that it triggered cancelation of an Australian agreement to buy French diesel powered submarines

French Ambassador to the US Philippe Etienne has been recalled amid a diplomatic row over a new US-UK-Australia alliance

French Ambassador to the US Philippe Etienne has been recalled amid a diplomatic row over a new US-UK-Australia alliance

In his furious attack on all three members of the new AUKUS pact – America, Australia and Britain – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) said all had acted disgracefully. French Ambassador to the US Philippe Etienne (right) has been recalled amid a diplomatic row over a new US-UK-Australia alliance

Mr Le Drian said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had told him about the ripping up of the submarines contract just an hour before the new Aukus deal was announced on live TV in Australia on Wednesday.

‘That’s why I say there has been duplicity, contempt and lies and when you have an ally of the stature of France, you don’t treat them like this,’ said Mr Le Drian.

Asked if there had been a failure of French intelligence in failing to find out about the Aukus deal in advance, Mr Le Drian said: ‘The project initiated by the US and Australia was decided by a small group and I’m not sure US and Australian ministers knew about it.

‘When we see the US president with the Australian prime minister announcing a new agreement, along with Boris Johnson, the breach of trust is profound. In a real alliance you talk to each other, you don’t hide things, you respect the other party and that is why this is a real crisis.’

Europe Minister Clement Beaune suggested it was because the UK was the 'junior partner' which had accepted the 'vassalisation' of the US

Europe Minister Clement Beaune suggested it was because the UK was the 'junior partner' which had accepted the 'vassalisation' of the US

Europe Minister Clement Beaune suggested it was because the UK was the ‘junior partner’ which had accepted the ‘vassalisation’ of the US

Lord Peter Ricketts, Britain’s former Ambassador to France, said the country sees Britain as ‘accomplices’ in the deal but that may not stop further repercussions.

In the French media, US President Joe Biden took most of the blame. ‘Submarines: Biden torpedoes the Contract of the Century between France and Australia,’ ran the headline in Le Figaro, adding that it was the equivalent of an ‘Indo-Pacific Trafalgar’.

Aides to Mr Le Drian later said he had meant that Britain was the ‘fifth wheel’ in the new Aukus security pact, and not Mr Johnson in particular.

Mr Le Drian also used the live broadcast to say that the row had turned into a full-blown ‘crisis’.

America and the UK are to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as the AUKUS pact to combat China's naval dominance and will likely be the similar design as this Astute class submarine HMS Ambush (pictured)

America and the UK are to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as the AUKUS pact to combat China's naval dominance and will likely be the similar design as this Astute class submarine HMS Ambush (pictured)

America and the UK are to help Australia build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines as part of an unprecedented alliance known as the AUKUS pact to combat China’s naval dominance and will likely be the similar design as this Astute class submarine HMS Ambush (pictured)

Australia will acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines and a host of other advanced military technology from the UK and US after singing an historic deal aimed at countering China's growing power

Australia will acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines and a host of other advanced military technology from the UK and US after singing an historic deal aimed at countering China's growing power

Australia will acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines and a host of other advanced military technology from the UK and US after singing an historic deal aimed at countering China’s growing power

Australia's defence minister has today admitted that war with China is possible in the South China Sea (pictured) with Taiwan (top) as the likely flashpoint. China claims control over the whole of the sea, which other nations dispute

Australia's defence minister has today admitted that war with China is possible in the South China Sea (pictured) with Taiwan (top) as the likely flashpoint. China claims control over the whole of the sea, which other nations dispute

Australia’s defence minister has today admitted that war with China is possible in the South China Sea (pictured) with Taiwan (top) as the likely flashpoint. China claims control over the whole of the sea, which other nations dispute 

He said: ‘The fact that, for the first time in the history of relations between the United States and France, we are recalling our ambassador for consultations is a grave political act that shows the intensity of the crisis today between our two countries and also with Australia.’

Mr Le Drian said his boss, Emmanuel Macron, had not yet confronted President Biden about the submarine issue.

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