France threatens to torpedo Brexit talks as Macron plots revenge for AUKUS submarine deal


FRANCE has threatened to drag Brexit into the diplomatic row over Britain’s submarine deal with Australia and the US.

French Europe minister Clement Beaune suggested the UK’s decision to side with Washington and Canberra in the conflict will have an impact on the talks to resolve post-Brexit border issues in Northern Ireland. Speaking ahead of an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels, he said: “We see with Brexit, we see with the AUKUS project, that we first need to rebuild confidence… we need to discuss together. We are not in this context at the moment.”

He accused Downing Street of damaging cross-Channel “trust” by signing up to the AUKUS military pact.

And in a direct attack on Boris Johnson, he suggested the UK had joined the alliance as a “junior partner” after coming under “pressure” from US President Joe Biden.

Mr Beaune suggested the rows over Northern Ireland and post-Brexit fishing rights had already damaged trust before the AUKUS alliance was announced.

He added: “There is a difficult relationship with the UK. We signed an agreement and we still see today that in terms of fishing and the Irish protocol, these agreements are not well applied and they are not fully respected.

“So we want to be extremely clear and repeat that the agreement must be respected. It is also a question of trust, of keeping your word, of respecting the interests of Europeans. We can’t say we take the things that suit us and forget about the ones that don’t.”

He vowed to continue Paris’ hardline response to the submarine pact, which saw Australia rip up a deal to purchase diesel-powered vessels from France.

Mr Beaune told reporters: “It creates a difficult situation we have to be lucid, we have to be aware we have to be firm.

“That’s as French but as Europeans because it’s a matter of the way we work together as allies that we remain particularly between the US and the EU.”

Germany is expected to row in behind France in the dispute over the AUKUS military alliance.

Michael Roth, its European affairs minister, suggested the EU would have to forge on with plans to develop bloc-wide military capabilities.