Donnez-moi un break over new pact

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

Speaking to reporters in Washington, he said it was time for “some of our dearest friends” to “prenez un grip”.

Paris is angry after Australia signed the Aukus pact to build nuclear-powered submarines, pulling out of a major contract with France in the process.

Mr Johnson insisted they were “not trying to shoulder anybody out”.

The Aukus agreement brokered last week, widely seen as an effort to counter China’s influence in the contested South China Sea, ended a deal worth $37bn (£27bn) signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines.

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In the following days, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the move as a “stab in the back”.

France’s defence minister then called off talks with her UK counterpart, Ben Wallace, who tried to reassure France saying that there had been no intent to “upset or drive a wedge between us and France”.

And in a rare step among allies, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recall of the French ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.

On his visit to the US this week, Mr Johnson said: “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.

“It’s not exclusive. It’s not trying to shoulder anybody out,” he added.

Analysts have described the Aukus alliance as probably the most significant security arrangement between the three nations since World War Two.

The pact will focus on military capability, separating it from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance which also includes New Zealand and Canada.

While Australia’s submarines is the big-ticket item, Aukus will also involve the sharing of cyber capabilities and other undersea technologies.

Mr Johnson is understood to have learned French while attending school in Brussels and, during his time as foreign secretary, he was known to venture into French during press conferences.

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