British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told France on Wednesday to “get a grip” and “donnez-moi a break” over a submarine dispute that saw Australia break a French contract for a trilateral deal. of nuclear-powered submarines between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Johnson’s comments came as French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to speak by phone with his American counterpart, Joe Biden, in a bid to defuse tensions following Australia’s scrapping of a 66,000 French-designed submarine deal. million dollars (56,000 million euros).
France is outraged that its ally Australia has secretly negotiated with other NATO members, the United States and the United Kingdom, without informing Paris until a few hours before the announcement.
Speaking to reporters in Washington, DC a day after meeting Biden, Johnson dismissed France’s ire: “I think it’s time some of our dearest friends around the world ‘got a grip’ on all of this. , ‘donnez-moi un break’, because this is fundamentally a big step forward for global security. ”
I was literally translating the English phrases “get yourself” and “give me a break” into French.
“He is not trying to support anyone, he is not an adversary with China, for example, he is there to intensify ties and friendship between three countries,” he said.
Last week, Paris withdrew its ambassadors from the United States and Australia, but has snubbed Britain.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Britain was a “third wheel” in the deal guilty of “constant opportunism.”
‘Backing off an engagement’ is not a problem for Johnson
The comments came as former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd harshly criticized Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of the submarine problem in an interview with FRANCE 24.
“We should have notified the French correctly, we should have re-launched a tender for a new replacement nuclear powered submarine project and thirdly, there are only three countries that can build these things: France, UK and US a competitive offering for them, ”said Rudd.
Johnson’s jokes are likely to further fuel Paris ire, according to diplomatic sources. “‘Global Britain’, it seems, aims to project Britain around the world, while marginalizing Europe. We cannot accept that,” a French diplomatic source told Reuters, referring to a slogan used by Johnson to describe the UK’s post-Brexit ambitions.
Britain’s role in pushing forward the new partnership appears to have been larger than initially thought, officials said, and the deal took shape during a G7 leaders’ summit in Cornwall in June that Macron also attended.
“It is true that going back on a commitment made and the word he gave is something that Boris Johnson finds it difficult to see why that would be a problem,” Nathalie Loiseau, a former French minister for Europe and a European legislator, said on Twitter.
“This is the whole problem, however, when one claims to want an international order based on rules and relationships based on trust.”
France on Monday canceled a meeting scheduled for this week between its defense minister, Florence Parly, and her British counterpart Ben Wallace.
( Jowhar with AFP and REUTERS)