Liz Truss Prime Minister of the United Kingdom: bad news for France?

Relations between France and the United Kingdom promise to be stormy after the British Conservatives’ election of Liz Truss as Prime Minister. However, both countries have many disputes to settle.

After the unpredictable Boris Johnson, can pragmatic Liz Truss calm relations with France? Those who thought so saw their hopes dashed by hearing new statements by the new Prime Minister, appointed leader of the Conservatives by his peers on Monday and installed as head of government by Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday.

Just a few days before his victory, the new tenant of 10 Downing Street spoke when a journalist asked him if Emmanuel Macron “is a friend or an enemy”, answering that he will judge him ” his actions”. A dodge that the French president does not want “we will face serious problems” if “we are not able, between the French and the British, to say whether we are friends or enemies”.

The French president was a bit late before sending his “congratulations” to Liz Truss. “The British people are a friendly people, the British Nation, our ally”, he wrote on Monday night in Twitterin response to the words of the new leader.

Fishing, immigration, waste water…

It must be said that between Paris and London, the diplomatic liabilities are heavy. Litigation has increased in recent months, first and foremost over illegal immigration. The case remains explosive as the number of illegal Channel crossings in England continues to rise. Tensions in November 2021, which increased after the drowning of 27 migrants, did not allow the abscess to be cut.

“The United Kingdom accuses France of being a sieve but still does not pay the amount they owe to France to improve the fight against illegal immigration”, pointed out Patrick Martin-Genier, professor at Sciences-Po and specialist in European issues.

The incident around fishing licenses, which also heated Franco-British relations last fall, seems to be over. But French fishermen can once again show their anger after a spill into the Channel of untreated waste. An “ecological disaster” criticized by Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region.

French bashing

The spades launched by Liz Truss at Emmanuel Macron must also be put in the context of Britain, recalls Patrick-Martin Genier. “He was elected by the most nationalist conservatives, for whom it is fashionable to hit France”, our expert described. As economic difficulties accumulate in the United Kingdom, “it is easier to put the blame on others, on France and the European Union in mind”.

Because by attacking the president of France, the new Prime Minister is also targeting the European leader. The Brexit soap opera, which was closely negotiated by Liz Truss when she occupied the seat of Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, is not over yet. The fragile balance found in London and Brussels may yet be dynamited in the coming months.

“Liz Truss has already tabled a bill in the House of Commons that questions the trade agreement on the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union”, emphasized Patrick – genius An agreement that Boris Johnson has yet to sign.

differences in Ukraine

In terms of geopolitics, the agreement is not very good. At the moment, British leaders seem above all to show that their country can claim its status as an important power on the international scene despite Brexit.

But in the Ukrainian file, the enthusiasm of the British to pose as the best European allies in Ukraine in the face of the Russian invasion has angered France, which is alone in wanting to continue a path of discussion with Moscow.

The trust between the two capitals has been unstable since the launch of the Aukus alliance. This partnership between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom resulted in Canberra canceling a huge contract to buy 12 French submarines. A wound is never completely closed.

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