France’s outgoing foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has undiplomatically welcomed the election defeat of Australia’s conservative government after a war of words last year over an abandoned submarine deal between the two countries.
Australia scrapped the purchase worth up to A$90bn (£50bn) last September in favour of a security pact with the US and the UK.
Scott Morrison, then the prime minister, rejected accusations that his government had lied to France, which consequently recalled its ambassadors from the US and Australia as a sign of protest and said that it was informed of the pact only hours before the public announcement was made.
Le Drian made the remarks about Morrison’s defeat in Saturday’s elections during a ceremony in Paris in which he handed over to his successor, Catherine Colonna.
💬 Australie: "La défaite du Premier ministre Morrisson me va très bien"
Lors de la passation de pouvoir au Quai d'Orsay avec Catherine Colonna, Jean-Yves Le Drian s'est réjouit de la défaite du Premier ministre australien aux élections législatives ⤵ pic.twitter.com/f7wHk0drxD
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) May 21, 2022
He said: “I can’t stop myself from saying that the defeat of Morrison suits me very well.”
Le Drian added that Morrison’s actions over the submarine deal showed “brutality and cynicism, and I would even be tempted to say of unequivocal incompetence”.
He added that he hoped that the French government “can resume frank and constructive dialogue with Australia in the future”.
Morrison, US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Boris Johnson unveiled a new security partnership last year, called the Aukus pact, that scuppered Australia’s 2016 deal with French shipbuilder Naval Group to build 12 conventional submarines.
Australia’s decision has led to an escalation of tensions between Paris and Canberra.
Le Drian said in September he felt “stabbed in the back” over the “unacceptable” deal that would damage French business.
French president Emmanuel Macron accused Morrison of lying to him last year over the abandoned submarine contract.
Australia’s rightwing Coalition government lost power after nearly a decade in office.
Morrison conceded defeat and announced he would step down as leader of his party.