British Foreign Minister Liz Truss is not yet Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, but has already been involved in a controversy with French President Emmanuel Macron. Faced with a question from the journalist who animated a session of the Conservative Party in Norwich – “Macron, friend or foe?” –, Truss decided to reply: “The jury is still in deliberations”, drawing laughter from the voters. “If I become prime minister, I will judge you by your actions and not your words,” she added. Macron was not amused and was quick to respond.
“The British people, the nation that is the United Kingdom is a friendly, strong and allied nation, whoever its leaders are, and sometimes despite their leaders or the small mistakes they may make in stage statements,” Macron said. this Friday, a few hours after the words of Truss, the favorite to win the leadership of the Conservative Party and, with that, assume the head of the British Government. “If we are not able, between the French and the British, to say whether we are friends or enemies – the term is not neutral – we are going to have serious problems”, she defended still.
Interrupting the program of a three-day visit to Algeria, from where he commented on Truss’ statements, Macron expressed his irritation when he noted that “it is never good to lose your way in life”: “If you asked me the question… Britain’s future leadership, I don’t question myself for a second. The UK is a friend of France,” he added.
Following the French head of state’s response, it was the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who tried to calm the controversy, describing Macro as a “three good buddy [bom amigo] of our country”. The leader of the Conservative Party also assured that he had “always had very good relations with Emmanuel Macron”.
The truth is that relations between France and the UK have been especially complicated in the post-Brexit period. Among the various dossiers, the issue of fishing licenses, in particular, led the French Government to threaten London with legal action if the British did not change their position on this issue. Paris accused Johnson’s government of not granting licenses that respected the conditions laid down in the agreement to leave the European Union.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, the two NATO allies have also adopted different postures: while Macron won the informal title of “most hated ally” among Ukrainian leaders for defending the need to maintain dialogue with Vladimir Putin, while at the same time manages to look busy without doing anything that produces great results (as described in the diary Le Monde in an article entitled “How Macron Became Ukraine’s Most Hated Ally“); Johnson, on the other hand, has a much tougher stance on Putin, sending a large number of weapons to Kiev, a city he returned to on Wednesday, the day that marks six months after the Russian invasion.
In Paris, writes the site Politician, it was dreamed that Johnson’s departure would provide a “restart” in relations between the two European countries. But the predictable victory of Liz Truss (far ahead in the polls) in the dispute with Rishi Sunak did not only lower expectations, it even led to an evident increase in tension. And this before Truss’ latest statements, which the former British ambassador to Paris, Peter Ricketts, condemned as “irresponsible”.
Allies of the current foreign minister, Politico says, suggest that one of her first decisions could be to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol, a mechanism to unilaterally suspend rules establishing the free movement of goods between Ireland. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (which is part of the European Union). At the Elysée, a French government official tells the website, Truss is seen as a “BoJo without ideas” (comparison with Boris Johnson), so his choice for leader of the Conservatives (and the British executive) would be “anyone but Truss ”.
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