Von der Leyen slams 'unacceptable' treatment of France
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The long-serving Tory MP’s comments come following the announcement of a military partnership between the UK, the US and Australia. The Pacific nation cancelled a deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of diesel submarines in favour of building at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology.
Sir John wrote on Twitter today that when the EU “complains the UK is forging a stronger alliance with Australia” they “come across as bad losers”.
He added the economic bloc “failed to lock us in” and “cannot understand they no longer control us.
“As an independent country the UK will ally and trade more with friendly partners.”
The axing of the French submarine deal angered the nation, which accused both Australia and the United States of stabbing it in the back. France recalled its ambassadors from both Canberra and Washington.
France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune told European counterparts on Tuesday that “we cannot act as if nothing happened. We need to look into all options.” He stressed that the issue was an EU matter, rather than just a French problem.
Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government, claimed compensation must be paid to France.
The military pact has angered European nations, with EU countries expressing solidarity with France on Monday.
In an interview, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said one of the EU’s member states had been “treated in a way that is not acceptable”.
She added: “we want to know what happened and why.”
Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator and contender for the French presidency, described the cancellation of the French deal as “a diplomatic and industrial disaster”.
However, hours before Germany publicly backed Emmanuel Macron over the diplomatic row, German and Australian generals signed a military alliance in Berlin, in a sign of disunity among EU nations.
Mr Redwood’s comments stand in stark contrast to those made by the UK’s Defence Secretary, who on Monday sought to play down suggestions of a rift between Britain and France.
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Ben Wallace claimed that the two nations were “joined at the hip”, insisting that there had been “is absolutely no intent here by the United Kingdom Government to slight, upset or drive a wedge between us and France.”
Despite this, his French counterpart Florence Parly postponed a meeting with him. Mr Wallace stressed to MPs in the House of Commons that he had an “extremely close relationship” with Ms Parly, adding: “we speak regularly”.
The same day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also sought to ease tensions with France, telling the Sun newspaper that “we are very, very proud of our relationship with France and it is of huge importance to this country.
“It’s a very friendly relationship – an entente cordial – that goes back a century or more and it absolutely vital for us.”
The anger within the EU stoked by the cancellation of the French submarines contract has thrown into doubt a potential Australia-EU trade deal.
Yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would not speak with the French president Emmanuel Macron at a United Nations summit this week.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, to get an agreement with the European Union on trade, I think everyone understands that,” he said.
Australia and the EU are set to hold the next round of talks on a trade deal on Oct 12.
Australian Minister for Trade Dan Tehan said on Monday that he expected those trade talks to go ahead as scheduled, despite the diplomatic rift.
The new military alliance between the UK, US and Australia – known as Aukus – announced last week will seek to strengthen intelligence and research cooperation between the three nations, in an apparent attempt to contain China.
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