Andrew Neil savages Boris Johnson's 'levelling up' promises
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Eyes are increasingly drawn to Mr Macron’s behaviour in the run-up to the French presidential elections next year. Mr Neil’s criticism comes after Mr Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson traded blows over the tragic deaths of 27 people attempting the Channel crossing from Calais. Mr Neil said that Mr Macron “just can’t stop bashing the Brits”.
He added: “This week the volume was turned up to 11 when it was reported he’d called Boris Johnson a ‘clown’ and a ‘knucklehead’.”
Reports in the French political magazine Le Canard enchaîné claimed that Mr Macron said Mr Johnson has “the attitude of a vulgarian”.
This, Mr Neil continued, “was just the latest example of Macron’s penchant for diplomacy by tantrum when it comes to relations with Britain”.
He added: “In this acrid atmosphere, it’s hardly surprising that Anglo-French talks to resolve the Channel migrant crisis have been getting nowhere.”
Mr Johnson penned an open letter to Mr Macron following the deaths in the Channel, urging the French president to go further in stopping people attempting to reach the UK from Calais.
In the letter, Mr Johnson laid out five points of action which the French government could implement to ease the crisis.
Mr Johnson urged France to “move further and faster” in order to tackle small boat crossings, calling the deaths an “appalling tragedy.”
He outlined five key steps that he believed the UK and France should put take “as soon as possible.”
Mr Johnson wrote: “If those who reach this country were swiftly returned the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced.”
It was widely published, including on the Government website, and publicised on Twitter.
Reacting, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said: “Making it public made it even worse.”
The French president, when asked his thoughts on Mr Johnson’s five-point manifesto, replied: “I am surprised when things are not done seriously. We are not whistleblowers.”
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Mr Neil, discussing the back-and-forth between the French and UK leaders, said: “[Macron’s] prime minister said that in dealing with us, France had to realise we only understood the ‘language of force’, which is a strange, threatening thing to say about a supposedly close ally.”
Musing on the sources behind the animosity, Mr Neil asked: “So what is it that drives Macron’s anti-British rhetoric?
“In a word: Brexit.
“He is a Europhile president who has never forgiven the British for voting to leave the European Union, which he sees as an act of self-inflicted madness and which brings a special piquancy to his dislike of Johnson, who led the Leave campaign.”
He added: “It’s not just anger with Britain that propels his rhetoric. It’s fear of the implications of Brexit for France.”
Mr Neil, qualifying his statement, commented: “There is no discernible ‘Frexit’ movement in France, but the most serious challengers he faces in his re-election bid next year are all various shapes of Eurosceptic.”
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