The shadow foreign secretary attacked Liz Truss for “a terrible and worrying lack of judgement” after she said the “jury’s out” on whether the French President is a “friend or foe” to the UK. The Tory leadership frontrunner told party members last night she would judge the Mr Macron on “deeds not words”.
The relationship between No10 and the Élysée Palace has been characterised by friction and fierce clashes ever since Mr Macron was first elected in 2017.
Labour has been criticised by Tory MPs after Mr Lammy lept to the defence of Mr Macron accusing the Foreign Secretary of a “needlessly insult”.
He said: “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.”
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Reacting to the remarks Conservative grandee and close ally of Ms Truss, Sir John Redwood, said: “Is there any French or EU criticism of the UK that Labour would disagree with?
“I want a PM who stands up for the UK when the EU criticises our migration policy, our fishing rights, vaccines, internal trade and the rest.
“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.”
There have been repeated diplomatic clashes between Britain and France in recent months.
Mr Macron has been one of the most vocal advocates for the Northern Ireland Protocol that has damaged the UK’s internal market.
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He has urged Brussels to stand firm in refusing to renegotiate the agreement to find a solution to the current impasse.
French politicians also threatened to cut off the gas supply to the British-dependent territories of the Channel Islands over a row on post-Brexit fishing rights.
In another moment which tested the relationship between London and Paris, earlier this year it emerged Mr Macron had privately referred to Boris Johnson as a “clown” whose politics was “always the same circus”.
Mr Macron today said Britain and its people will always be friends of France despite the occasional error made by its leaders.
“Britain is a friend of France, I don’t doubt that for a second,” Macron said when asked about Ms Truss’s comment.
“If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies.
“Then we are headed for serious problems,” he added.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who is supporting Ms Truss’s leadership bid, this morning defended her quip about the French President describing it as a “light-hearted comment with a touch of humour”.