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Macron’s view of Boris and Britain: French leader’s attacks on ‘clown’ Johnson and UK

Emmanuel Macron pledged to unite France as he was re-elected French President for another five years on Sunday. The centrist incumbent defeated his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen, taking 58.55 percent of the vote compared to her 41.45 percent. As well as the implications for France, Mr Macron’s victory is also significant for global politics, including across the English Channel in the UK.

The politician, who has led his country since 2017, has a history of making pointed remarks not only about the UK Government but about Boris Johnson personally.

One of his most notorious salvos against the Prime Minister came in December last year as he reportedly branded him a “clown” and a “knucklehead”.

Mr Macron was quoted as dishing out the insults in Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical and investigative French magazine similar to the UK’s Private Eye.

The publication reported that the French leader had been furious with his British counterpart as he spoke during a briefing with his advisors in Zagreb about the migrant crisis.

The anger was in response to the deaths of 27 migrants who were travelling from France to England across the Channel – the largest single loss of life recorded for people making the crossing.

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Speaking about the UK, the President said: “It is sad to see a major country with which we could do huge numbers of things, led by a clown. Johnson has the attitude of a knucklehead.”

Mr Macron’s comments were not denied by the Élysée Palace or the French embassy in London.

Part of his rage was said to be in response to Mr Johnson tweeting a copy of a letter written to Mr Macron about the migrant crisis before his French counterpart had had a chance to read it.

The French leader also said the Prime Minister had “the attitude of a vulgarian”, according to Le Canard Enchaîné.

He reportedly added: “BoJo talks to me at full speed, everything is going fine, we have discussions like big people, and then he gives us a hard time before or afterwards in an inelegant way.

However, the agreement was seen as a major snub of France, as it saw Australia pull out of a $37billion (£27 billion) deal signed in 2016 for France to build 12 submarines for the country.

After Mr Macron expressed anger over the deal, Mr Johnson told him to “prenez un grip” (get a grip) and “donnez-moi un break” (give me a break).

More recently, Mr Macron hit out at his UK opposite number over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking last month, he accused the UK Government of not living up to its “grand statements” about helping to resettle Ukrainian refugees.

He alleged that Britain was treating displaced Ukrainians badly by insisting that they make visa applications in person in Brussels and Paris before coming to the UK.

He added: “I would hope that the Ukrainian men and women who have lived through horror and crossed Europe to reach their families on UK territory will be better treated.”

Not all Mr Macron’s comments about the UK have been negative, however.

The French leader confessed his love for Britain during a speech in December to announce France as the new head of the Council of the EU.

While admitting to some difficulties in his communications with the Government, he also said: “The UK is a great nation, a neighbour and a friend. Our history, like our geography, does not change.”



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