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Relations between France and the United Kingdom deteriorate most after the Australian submarine affair

Relations between France and the United Kingdom deteriorate most after the Australian submarine affair

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and French President Emmanuel Macron hold a bilateral meeting during the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom, on June 12, 2021. afp_tickers

This content was published on Sep 24, 2021 – 08:01


French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with American Joe Biden to bring the positions closer after the submarine crisis. But the conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with whom many disagreements have accumulated, is still pending.

The AUKUS military agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States angered the French, who were denied a submarine supply contract signed years ago with Canberra.

And while the French ambassador to the UK has not been called in for consultations like his counterparts in Washington and Canberra, this does not mean that Paris is not upset with London.

In New York, in the corridors of the United Nations General Assembly, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian refused any bilateral meeting announced by his British counterpart and was “cold” at a meeting of the five permanent members. A British diplomatic source told AFP.

From Paris, a senior official who claims anonymity understands that London’s role in the agreement has been more active than public reactions and statements of the French government suggest.

Added to this is the annoyance caused by the statements of Boris Johnson, Sunday, who tried to seduce the French by pointing out that the love of the British was “impossible to eliminate”, and on Wednesday he launched an eloquent “give me a break”. to urge them. Overcome your anger.

– French discontent –

In the background are tensions accumulating over multiple issues, such as the consequences of Brexit or the migration crisis, as many irregular foreigners leave France for the UK via the English Channel.

“The relationship has unfortunately deteriorated,” says Elvir Fabri, a professor of political science at the European Jacques Delors Institute, but that is “unsurprising” given the effects of Brexit and Britain’s strategy.

“It’s been a long time since the relationship was so strained,” says former French ambassador to London Sylvie Berman, author of Goodbye Britain.

“In European capitals, many have turned the page on post-Brexit challenges, but Britons continue to see them daily, and Johnson’s narrative is built on European intransigence, particularly from France.”

Indeed, from London, France is often attributed to the role of the “bad cop” in the negotiations, which were also led by the Frenchman Michel Barnier, Fabry recalls.

“On the one hand, we have a British minister who wants to show that Brexit is a huge success. And on the other hand, a president whose motto is European. So, naturally, there will be disagreements,” Berman says.

– ‘A pariah state’ –

The disputes relate either to fishing in the waters of Jersey, where London does not want French boats, or the threat to redirect migrants trying to cross the English Channel to French shores.

“We are within our patience,” French Minister of State for European Affairs Clément Bonn said Thursday of the fisheries disputes.

For now, it is resisting defense and security cooperation, which is still close. France, for example, needs Chinook transport helicopters to transport its troops deployed in the Sahel.

“On an operational level, collaboration and relationships remain good,” Berman says.

“Our defense relationship with France is deep, strategic and important,” former British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently told the Daily Telegraph.

“But it will not go to another level unless France stops treating us as a pariah state that should be punished by Brexit and treat us as an equal, sovereign and independent power,” he added.

bur-fz-vl-prh / jg / sg / dbh / mar

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