Brexit news: The row of submarines intensifies – Boris Johnson is called a “spare tire” by the French | Politics | New
Australia canceled a submarine order with Paris in favor of a deal with Washington and London last week. This decision sparked the fury of the French, Emmanuel Macron first recalling the country’s ambassadors to the United States and Australia, then canceling a meeting between the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and his British counterpart scheduled for this week.
The French were particularly angry with US President Joe Biden and Australian leader Scott Morrison for what they called a “stab in the back”.
But, addressing Britain’s role in the newly forged alliance, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was not surprised by the UK’s “continuing opportunism” .
He also called Boris Johnson the “fifth wheel” in the diplomatic row, adding that he meant the British Prime Minister is a “spare wheel”.
The French Minister for Europe, ClÃ©ment Beaune, also suggested that the United Kingdom was the âjunior partnerâ which had accepted its âvassalizationâ by the United States.
French daily Le Figaro declared the spat to be the equivalent of an “Indo-Pacific Trafalgar” in an article titled “Submarines: Biden torpedoing the contract of the century between France and Australia”.
The comments are likely to further exacerbate relations between France and the UK, already strained by Mr Macron’s firm stance in the Brexit negotiations.
The pact between the UK, US and Australia has been widely seen as an attempt to counter China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Beijing quickly denounced the initiative as “extremely irresponsible” and a threat to regional peace and stability.
READ MORE: France rejects Britain’s role in Brexit in AUKUS alliance
Mr Johnson also urged Emmanuel Macron not to “worry” about the new military alliance.
Mr Johnson insisted that Britain and France have a “very friendly relationship”, which he described as “of enormous importance”.
He added: “AUKUS is by no means meant to be zero-sum, it’s not meant to be exclusive. It’s not something that no one needs to worry about and especially not our French friends.”
New Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has landed in New York alongside Mr Johnson as they both prepare to meet with US President Joe Biden in Washington on Tuesday.
She launched a defense of the deal, widely seen as a counterbalance to China’s growing military assertiveness in the region, in an article for the Sunday Telegraph.
Ms Truss said Britain will always be a “fierce champion” of freedom and free enterprise around the world.
“It shows our willingness to have a tough head to defend our interests and challenge unfair practices and malicious acts,” she added.
She will also attend the UN summit, where she will make contact with the French, although the extent of the conversations is unclear.