Boris Johnson tells Emmanuel Macron to 'donnez-moi un break' amid Aukus row

Watch: PM urges French 'donnez-moi un break' over Aukus

Boris Johnson has told French president Emmanuel Macron to “donnez-moi un break” and get over his anger about the new military pact forged between the Australia, the UK and the US.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, the prime minister used Franglais as he said: “I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip about this and donnez-moi un break.

“Because this is fundamentally a great step forward for global security. It’s three very like-minded allies standing shoulder to shoulder creating a new partnership for the sharing of technology.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 21: Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Vice Presidents Ceremonial Office of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, on September 21, 2021 in Washington DC.   Mr Johnson made a 24-hour visit to Washington to meet with the president, vice president and congressional leaders, while in the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson pictured during his visit to New York. (Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a statement during the 8th MED7 Mediterranean countries summit in Athens, on September 17, 2021. (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
French president Emmanuel Macron has expressed anger at the AUKUS pact. (Getty)

“It’s not exclusive. It’s not trying to shoulder anybody out. It’s not adversarial towards China, for instance.”

The Australia-UK-US Aukus pact saw Sydney decide to pursue the development of nuclear-powered submarines at the expense of a deal with France to provide diesel-electric boats.

The diplomatic fallout has seen France recall its ambassadors from Australia and the US and postpone high-level meetings.

This week, British defence secretary Ben Wallace sought to play down suggestions of a rift between the UK and France, insisting there was “no sneakiness behind the back” over the lucrative submarines contract.

He was speaking after his French counterpart Florence Parly postponed a meeting with him amid the international fallout from the contract row.

A defence source told the PA news agency that “the meeting is postponed, not cancelled” and highlighted the strength of the UK military relationship with “trusted allies” France, including operations in Mali and complex weapons development.

US President Joe Biden participates is a virtual press conference on national security with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 15, 2021. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Australian PM Scott Morrison, US president Joe Biden and UK PM Boris Johnson participate in a virtual press conference on the Aukus pact. (Getty Images)

However, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the deal as a “stab in the back” and constituted “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners”.

In an interview with France 2 television, Le Drian accused Australia and the US of “duplicity, disdain and lies” and said the recalling of France’s ambassadors “signifies the force of the crisis today”.

He said allies “don’t treat each other with such brutality, such unpredictability, a major partner like France … So there really is a crisis”.

Johnson's tone on Wednesday was a marked shift from the more conciliatory one over the weekend, when he urged Macron not to “worry” about Aukus.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and France's President Emmanuel Macron arrive for a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Carbis bay, Cornwall on June 12, 2021. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP) (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron are locked in a diplomatic row over the Aukus pact. (Getty)

The PM insisted Anglo-French relations were “ineradicable” on Sunday after France suggested the UK was a lapdog to Biden’s White House during a verbal attack.

Johnson insisted Britain and France have a “very friendly relationship”, which he described as being of “huge importance”.

“Our love of France is ineradicable,” he told reporters travelling with him on the RAF Voyager to New York.

“Aukus is not in any way meant to be zero-sum, it’s not meant to be exclusionary. It’s not something that anybody needs to worry about and particularly not our French friends.”

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 05: In this handout image provided by the Australian Defence Force, Royal Australian Navy submarine HMAS Rankin is seen during AUSINDEX 21, a biennial maritime exercise between the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy on September 5, 2021 in Darwin, Australia. Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have announced a new strategic defence partnership - known as AUKUS - to build a class of nuclear-propelled submarines and work together in the Indo-Pacific region. The new submarines will replace the Royal Australian Navy's existing Collins submarine fleet. (Photo by POIS Yuri Ramsey/Australian Defence Force via Getty Images)
New submarines will replace the Royal Australian Navy's existing Collins submarine fleet as part of the Aukus pact. (Australian Defence Force/Getty)

New foreign secretary Liz Truss launched a defence of the agreement after arriving in Washington DC with the prime minister.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Truss said Britain would always be a “fierce champion” of freedom and free enterprise around the world.

“It shows our readiness to be hard-headed in defending our interests and challenging unfair practices and malign acts,” she added.

Watch: Recalled French ambassador call Aukus submarine deal a 'huge mistake'