| 24 May 2024, Friday |

Johnson will tell Macron: France is one of UK’s best allies

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised France as one of Britain’s best, oldest, and closest allies, promising to work with President Emmanuel Macron to reduce tensions when the two meet at the weekend.

A dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights has strained relations between the neighbors, who have clashed over everything from Britain’s exit from the European Union to London’s security pact with the US and Australia.

Officials hope that the conference in Rome, which will take place on the margins of the G20 summit of the world’s largest economies, will not overshadow the event, which Johnson believes will pave the way for more action at the United Nations’ climate summit in Glasgow.

“France is one of our best, oldest, closest allies, friends and partners,” Johnson told reporters on a plane to the G20 meeting.

“The ties that unite us and bind us together are far stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in the relationship. That’s what I’m going to say to Emmanuel who’s a friend I’ve known for many years.”

Johnson’s words echoed those of U.S. President Joe Biden, who met Macron on Friday, and said the United States did not have an older and more loyal ally than in Macron.

London and Paris have clashed over post-Brexit fishing rights in recent weeks and the situation escalated on Thursday when France seized a British fishing boat in its waters and warned it would take further measures.

In response, Britain has threatened to open trade dispute proceedings, raising the stakes in a row that is part of a wider dispute over trading arrangements between Britain and the EU.

“On the particular issues we, we’re puzzled about what’s going on,” said Johnson.

“We fear there maybe a breach of the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (Brexit trade deal) implicit in what is happening and some of the things that are being said … Obviously we’re going to take the appropriate action.”

But he hoped there would be no new fish war to replicate a sausage war with the EU earlier this year that threatened to overshadow a meeting of the G7 countries.

“This time it’s fish rather than sausages, I don’t know if that’s an improvement but look actually there are bigger fish to fry, everybody knows that,” he said.

“The issue is how much more progress can we make and to what extent can we keep 1.5 alive … We’re going to have to do more but what can we do now to make sure we have a fighting chance,” Johnson added, referring to the world’s attempts to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius this century.

  • Reuters