'Very bitter' Macron's lucrative Australian deal torn up by Brexit Britain and US


French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the decision by Australia to scrap the £43 billion arrangement with Paris was a “stab in the back”. “We had established a trusting relationship with Australia, and this trust was betrayed,” he fumed. The Frenchman said he was “angry and very bitter about this break-up.”

Mr Le Drian added that he had spoken to his Australian counterpart days ago and was given no indication of the move.

Britain and the US will now help Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines, as part of an agreement announced by Boris Johnson, President Joe Biden and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.

The newly formed strategic alliance was forged to challenge an increasingly provocative China.

The three leaders last night said: “We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programmes to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.”

The deal comes at a time when President Biden is challenging Nato allies to be more robust with their stances towards Bejing.

As a result of this new pact, Canberra will abandon its submarine-building deal with France.

Losing the lucrative agreement has left the French government seething.

Mr Le Drian and French defence minister Florence Parly said the new AUKUS deal was a breach of trust between France and Australia.

In a statement, they said: “The decision is contrary to the letter and spirit of cooperation that prevailed between France and Australia.

“The American choice to push aside an ally and European partner like France from a structuring partnership with Australia, at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region… shows a lack of consistency France can only not and regret.”

Former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, a centre-right challenger to President Emmanuel Macron, also lashed out at Canberra.

He said: “By breaking its commitments with France on submarines, Australia is dealing an unfair blow to promising strategic cooperation.

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The UK has announced the new deal as one of the most significant collaborations in recent years.

President Biden has praised Britain’s involvement as part of a trend of European nations playing a greater role in the Indo-Pacific.

A senior US official said: “Great Britain is very focused on the concept of ‘global Britain’ and their tilt is about engaging much more deeply with the Indo-Pacific, and this is a down payment on that effort. This alignment is about . . . a new architecture of meetings and engagements among our senior defence and foreign policy officials to share perspectives, to align views.

“But we will also announce efforts to spur co-operation across many new and emerging arenas: cyber, AI — particularly applied AI; quantum technologies; and some undersea capabilities as well . . . You’re going to see a much more dedicated effort to pursue integration of security and defence-related science, technology, and industrial bases, and supply chains.”

Prime Minister Mr Johnson said while the three nations are separated on the map, “our interests and values are shared”.

He added: “The AUKUS alliance will bring us closer than ever, creating a new defence partnership and driving jobs and prosperity.”

The pact will be “one of the most complex and technically demanding projects in the world” and last for decades, Mr Johnson said.

Britain has built nuclear submarines for 60 years, with work from Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.



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