France slammed over Australia submarine row by Chris Smith
French Europe minister Clement Beaune has triggered a major backlash after suggesting the UK’s decision to form a security pact with Australia and the US would have an impact on Brexit talks relating to Northern Ireland. The so-called AUKUS agreement will see the UK, US and Australia increase security cooperation and deliver eight nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian navy – tearing up a multi-billion pound deal between Canberra and Paris.
The ally of French President Emmanuel Macron claimed the AUKUS deal and Brexit had undermined confidence between France and its allies.
In the wake of Australia ripping up a 2016 deal on submarines, Mr Beaune stressed the Northern Ireland Protocol, signed as part of the Brexit withdrawal deal in 2020, needed to be respected by the UK.
The decision to drag Brexit into the spat has triggered an angry reaction from a number of Express.co.uk readers, with one urging the US President Joe Biden to “take note” and accusing France of showing “complete disregard” for the Brexit deal.
Britons have reacted furiously to Brexit being dragged into the submarine row
French Europe minister Clement Beaune has triggered a major backlash
In the comments section, Kwisatshaderach wrote: “Here, laid bare, for all the British people, including those of Northern Ireland, to plainly see, is the EU’s and France in particular, complete disregard for the Good Friday agreement and the sovereignty of Great Britain.
“I hope [Joe] Biden and [Nancy] Pelosi take note. I trust Britain will act.
“The EU is folding, they are clearly concerned with Britain’s success outside of their cabal and will do ‘anything’ to hinder it. They will fail, as they always have.”
Another reader with the handle, Blades, said: “The French have always maintained that the UK has to adhere to the agreement we signed up to.
The UK, US and Australia have agreed a security pact
“The AUKUS agreement is irrelevant concerning Brexit. The NI protocol is either right or wrong. Simply putting the boot in because it now suits his agenda doesn’t make the current NI Protocol right.
“Macron has always had it in for the UK regardless. AUKUS makes no difference.”
Steve Ward said: “Let’s hope they do try and drag Brexit in, so that we can finally leave on WTO [World Trade Organisation] and no more money or fish from us.”
Cyrilsnear added: “Unfortunately for the EU their leverage gets weaker the more the UK does deals with partners outside the EU.”
The landmark AUKUS deal will increase security ties between the three nations in a bid to counter the growing threats posed in the Indo-Pacific.
READ MORE: Irish PM to launch Brexit attack in key US speech
Australia has scrapped a submarine deal with France
It also saw Australia abandon a deal struck five years ago with France to build 12 diesel-electric powered submarines, worth more than £30billion.
Speaking ahead of an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels, Mr Beaune 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.”
Relations between the UK and the EU had already been strained over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, created to prevent a hard border.
The mechanism has effectively placed a trade barrier down the Irish Sea and resulted in increased checks on goods.
Dead in water! Brexit trade deal plans with US, Canada and Mexico axed [INSIGHT]
Royal Family LIVE: Harry and Meghan tipped for UK return [LIVE]
UK hot weather: 24C mini-heatwave to strike in HOURS [FORECAST]
Five key moments that led to Brexit
Ties between the UK and France have also been on the brink due to post-Brexit fishing rights and earlier this year both sides clashed over licences for EU vessels in Jersey.
Mr Beaune acknowledged the relationship between London and Paris had been on the edge even before the UK signed up to the security alliance with the US and Australia.
He said: “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.”
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who oversees EU relations with Britain, has again rejected demands from the UK to renegotiate the Protocol but hoped a solution would be found before the end of the year.