Boris says he wants to ‘reach out’ to France after AUKUS pact row… but will Emmanuel Macron take his call in the wake of ‘Franglais’ jibes?
- Boris Johnson says he wants to cool the row with France over the AUKUS pact
- PM says US and UK ‘taken aback’ by reaction and want to ‘reach out’ to Paris
- Comes despite Mr Johnson ridiculing Emmanuel Macron’s response in ‘Franglais’
Boris Johnson has insisted he wants to ‘reach out’ to France over the AUKUS security pact row, despite ridiculing Emanuel Macron’s reaction in ‘Franglais’.
The PM said he is determined to ‘sort something out’ after admitting he and Joe Biden had been ‘taken aback’ by the extent of French fury.
However, it is unclear whether Mr Macron will feel the same way after Mr Johnson’s extraordinary outburst yesterday in which he swiped that the president should ‘prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break’ – get a grip and give me a break.
The jibes could hamper efforts to cool cross-Channel tensions, even though Mr Macron and Mr Biden appear to have repaired their relations somewhat in a call last night.
It emerged yesterday that despite the row, the US, UK and Australia are hoping to deepen security ties further – and France will not be invited to join the group.
Paris was infuriated by the secret AUKUS deal, which has cost it a £50billion contract to supply diesel-powered submarines to Australia.
Boris Johnson (pictured right in New York yesterday) has insisted he wants to ‘reach out’ to France over the AUKUS security pact row, despite ridiculing Emanuel Macron’s (left) reaction in ‘Franglais’
Mr Macron and US President Joe Biden appear to have repaired their relations somewhat in a call last night (pictured)
Australia is thought to have informed Paris shortly beforehand that it was switching to nuclear-powered submarines offered by the US and UK. Some Whitehall sources believe the French outrage is designed to try to extract more compensation from Australia.
Speaking to reporters while travelling in the US, the Prime Minister acknowledged that France may have learned of the deal late on.
‘There are no easy ways of having these conversations,’ he said. ‘It’s a very human thing to delay the frank conversation until the last possible moment.
‘I don’t know if anyone has been in that situation in their emotional life but it’s very human to put it off.
‘Everybody has been a bit taken aback by the strength of the French reaction and we all want to reach out to Paris and sort something out.’
Yesterday, the PM said he was keen to build bridges with the French after they claimed they had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by allies.
Defending the deal, he told reporters in Washington DC: ‘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. It’s not exclusive. It’s not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China for instance.’ It is understood that Mr Johnson discussed deepening the deal during separate talks in Washington with Mr Biden and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
All three men are said to be keen to expand the deal to other areas, such as defending human rights and open markets. President Biden and Mr Johnson are said to have discussed their ‘astonishment’ at the scale of the French anger.
Mr Morrison has assured them both that he informed Paris of the deal in advance.
Senior diplomats believe the French government is furious with its security agencies for missing the signals that the Aukus deal was being struck. But some believe the French outrage is synthetic.
One Whitehall source said: ‘They are still going – it is incredible.
Mr Johnson and Australian PM Scott Morrison burnished their alliance over dinner in New York this week
‘Ultimately, this is a sovereign decision for Australia about who they want to supply their submarine capability.’
The French government took the unprecedented step of withdrawing its ambassadors from the US and Australia in protest.
But last night Mr Biden sought to make amends with a ‘friendly’ 30-minute phone call with Mr Macron – their first since the deal.
France agreed to send its ambassador back to Washington next week and the leaders will launch ‘in-depth consultations’ to rebuild trust. They will also meet in Europe at the end of October. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Mr Biden was ‘hopeful this was a step in returning to normal’.
The deal comes just months before France’s presidential elections, in which Mr Macron is seeking to extend his term.
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