Macron hits back at Truss after she says 'jury's out' on French leader

Macron hits back at Truss after she says 'jury's out' on French leader

August 26, 2022

Emmanuel Macron swipes back at Liz Truss for ‘losing her bearings’ after Tory leadership favourite said ‘jury is out’ on French President – but Boris insists he is a ‘tres bon buddy’ of UK

  • Liz Truss faces backlash after refusing to say Emmanuel Macron is ‘friend’ of UK
  • Foreign Secretary tells Tory members ‘the jury’s out’ on French President
  • She vows to ‘judge him on deeds not words’ if she becomes new PM next month
  • Mr Macron swipes back: ‘It’s never a good idea to lose your bearings in life’

Emmanuel Macron today swiped back at Liz Truss after the Tory leadership favourite refused to say whether the French President was a ‘friend’ of Britain.

The Foreign Secretary set up a fresh diplomatic spat across the Channel when –  speaking to Tory members in Norwich last night – she claimed ‘the jury’s out’ on Mr Macron.

Ms Truss, who is widely expected to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister next month, also vowed to judge the French leader on ‘deeds not words’ if she enters Downing Street.

Asked about Ms Truss’s comments today, Mr Macron took aim at the Foreign Secretary as he suggested she had lost her ‘bearings’ during the race for Number 10.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson sought to cool tensions between Westminster and Paris as he insisted the French President was a ‘tres bon buddy’ of the UK.

Responding to Ms Truss’s comments on a trip to Algiers, the capital of Algeria, today, Mr Macron made a pointed dig at the Tory leadership favourite.

He said: ‘The UK is a friendly nation, regardless of its leaders, and sometimes in spite of its leaders.

‘It’s never a good idea to lose your bearings in life. If I’d been asked the question myself, this is how I’d answer it – whoever becomes the next leader of Great Britain, I won’t ask myself any questions about them personally.

‘Great Britain is a friend of France, and you know we live in a complicated world.

‘We have more and more liberal governments, autocratic democracies and other powers that create imbalance, and if we’re not able to say whether the French and British people are friends or foes – and the word foes is not a neutral one – then we’re heading towards serious problems.

‘So yes, I say it with certainty, the British people, the British nation is our friend.

‘The UK, strong and allied, regardless of its leaders, and sometimes in spite of and beyond its leaders, or regardless of the small mistakes they can make in their speeches.’

Liz Truss, speaking to Tory members in Norwich last night, claimed ‘the jury’s out’ on the French President

Emmanuel Macron today swiped back at the Foreign Secretary, telling her: ‘It’s never a good idea to lose your bearings in life’

Boris Johnson, on a visit to an orthopaedic centre, sought to cool tensions between Westminster and Paris as he insisted the French President was a ‘tres bon buddy’ of the UK

Awkward! Sunak says Truss is a better choice as PM than Boris… but she chooses Johnson over Rishi

Rishi Sunak last night awkwardly saw Tory leadership rival Liz Truss state Boris Johnson would be a better prime minister than him.

The Foreign Secretary’s answer came shortly after Mr Sunak himself had said he would rather Ms Truss as PM than Mr Johnson.

Mr Sunak, who quit as Mr Johnson’s Chancellor last month, told Tory members in Norwich: ‘Look, we’ve got to move forward as a party.

‘Lots of you here, I’m sure (are) upset with me for resigning, wish Boris was here, that is not going to help us move forward.

‘We’ve got to move forward as a party and when this is over we’re all on the same team, we’re all in the same family.

‘We’ve got to focus on beating Keir Starmer, and we’re not going to do that if we’re looking backwards. We’ve got to look forwards.’

Mr Johnson attempted to take the heat out of the diplomatic spat when he was asked about Ms Truss’s remarks himself on a visit to an orthopaedic centre in Surrey this morning.

‘I think I’ve always had very good relations with Emmanuel Macron,’ the outgoing PM said.

‘Emmanuel Macron est un tres bon buddy de notre pays.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘I think the relations between the UK and France are of huge importance. They have been very good for a long time, ever since the Napoleonic era basically, and I think we should celebrate that.

‘As for Emmanuel, I’ve had very good relations with him and I can tell you something: he’s a great, great fan of our country.’

Ms Truss had already been accused of a ‘worrying lack of judgement’ and of ‘playing to the gallery’ with her remarks on Thursday night.

The Foreign Secretary has previously used the Tory leadership contest to pledge to be ‘robust’ with French authorities over the Channel migrant crisis.

She is also claimed to be considering a fresh Brexit fight with France and other EU nations by tearing up the Northern Ireland Protocol within days of entering Number 10.

Speaking at the penultimate hustings event in the Tory leadership contest last night, Ms Truss said of Mr Macron: ‘If I become PM, I will judge him on deeds not words.’

But critics pointed to how the UK and France are currently working together with other Western nations to face down Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Former Tory MP David Gauke, who served in Theresa May’s Cabinet alongside Ms Truss, said: ‘There’s playing to the gallery and then there’s letting the prejudices of the gallery go to your head, especially when now is one of the worst times to try to fragment the West.’

Lord Barwell, who was Mrs May’s chief of staff when she was PM, said: ‘You would have thought the Foreign Secretary was aware we are in a military alliance with France.’

And David Lammy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, added: ‘At a time when the West must stay united in the face of Russian attempts to divide us, the fact the Foreign Secretary has chosen to needlessly insult one of our closest allies shows a terrible and worrying lack of judgement.

‘Liz Truss’s decision making has clearly become clouded by weeks and weeks of playing to the gallery of Tory members rather than focusing on the country.’

Mr Johnson said he’d ‘always had very good relations’ with Mr Macron while PM, as he stressed the Anglo-French partnership was of ‘huge importance’

Meanwhile, Germany’s ambassador to the UK issued a gentle rebuke to Ms Truss on the importance of Anglo-French relations.

Miguel Berger told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I would say that the relationship with France is of crucial importance for the UK, so my recommendation would be really to look for a relationship that is as close as possible.’

He added: ‘I think there needs to be an effort to reach a good understanding and cooperation with our French neighbours.’ 

But Ms Truss did find backing for her comments about Mr Macron among her supporters.

Some noted how late last year, ahead of his successful campaign to be re-elected as French President, Mr Macron was reported to have referred to Mr Johnson as a ‘clown’ in a private conversation.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi – who is backing Ms Truss for the Tory leadership – today insisted the Foreign Secretary was making a ‘light-hearted’ comment about the French leader.

‘It was clearly said as a light-hearted comment with a touch of humour,’ Mr Zahawi said.

‘Stating the obvious, France is one of our closest strategic allies in defence and security, of course, in our effort to face down Putin in his illegal invasion of a free and democratic country in Ukraine.

‘We like people to judge us on our actions, on our deeds, not words. And I think it is right that we also hold our allies to that very high standard.’

Mr Zahawi added there were ‘lots of chuckles’ when Ms Truss made her comments.

‘Liz and I both know that France is a strategic ally in defence, cyber, in our war effort in helping Ukraine, all these things we work very closely together,’ he continued.

‘We like to be held by our allies on our actions and our deeds, not words, as we have done in Ukraine. Liz has led that effort in facing down Putin and his cronies and sanctioning them and of course, she will continue to do that as Prime Minister.’

Veteran Tory MP John Redwood, who is tipped for a Treasury role if Ms Truss becomes PM, said: ‘President Macron could show friendship to the UK by arresting the people smugglers on French beaches, and stopping the small boats undertaking illegal and dangerous voyages.

‘He could also back the need for GB to be able to sell goods freely in Northern Ireland.’

When Rishi Sunak, who is Ms Truss’s rival for the Tory leadership, was also asked whether Mr Macron was a ‘friend or foe’ at last night’s hustings, he quickly answered: ‘Friend.’

Source: Read Full Article