President Emmanuel Macron praised France’s “unbreakable tie” with the UK after a phone call offering condolences to King Charles III.
It’s the second time since the Queen’s death that the French leader has emphasised the relationship between the two nations, which comes after prime minister Liz Truss controversially questioned whether France was a friend or foe of the UK.
Posting on Twitter after Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin was placed in Westminster Hall to lie-in-state, Mr Macron wrote: “In a phone conversation with His Majesty King Charles III last night, I expressed France’s condolences on the death of his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I will attend the funeral in London on Monday.
“The ties between France and the United Kingdom are unbreakable. We will continue to strengthen them, following the path laid by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
During her campaign run to be leader of the Conservative Party, Liz Truss told Tory members at a leadership hustings in Norwich that she was undecided as to whether her counterpart in Paris was “friend or foe”.
TalkTV’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, hosting the event, asked Truss: “President Macron, friend or foe?”
“The jury’s out,” she responded to loud applause from Tory members. Truss then added: “But if I become prime minister, I would judge him on deeds, not words.”
She was accused of a “woeful” lack of judgement and risking harm to diplomatic relations with France after she said the “jury’s out” on president Emmanuel Macron.
Former Tory minister and peer Gavin Barwell tweeted: “You would have thought the Foreign Secretary was aware we are in a military alliance with France”. Commentators referred to her remarks “lamentable” and “weapons-grade idiocy”, with the Times columnist Hugo Rifkind tweeting: “You look at this and you think, ‘How could somebody who says this ever be PM?’ And then you remember she’s already foreign secretary.”
The UK and France have clashed on a number of issues in recent months, including boat crossings on the English Channel and travel chaos at Dover. In an apparent attempt to smooth diplomatic relations, Boris Johnson described the French president as a “tres bon buddy” of the UK.
He also claimed that Mr Macron was a “great, great fan of our country”. He told reporters: “I think I’ve always had very good relations with Emmanuel Macron. Emmanuel Macron est un tres bon buddy de notre pays.”
In his first response to the comments last month, Mr Macron described Britain as an ally and said its people would always be friends of France, despite the occasional errors made by its leaders.
“Britain is a friend of France, I don’t doubt that for a second,” he said when asked about the remarks by Ms Truss, but he warned: “If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies… then we are headed for serious problems.”