Tory leadership: Truss criticised for Macron ‘jury is out’ remark

Tory leadership: Truss criticised for Macron ‘jury is out’ remark

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been criticised after she said the “jury was still out” on French President Emmanuel Macron.

Her remark came as she was asked if Mr Macron was a “friend or foe” of the UK at a Tory leadership hustings.

She added that if elected PM she would judge him on “deeds not words”.

But Labour’s David Lammy accused Ms Truss of “a woeful lack of judgement”, saying she had insulted one of “Britain’s closest allies”.

Ms Truss, widely seen as the clear frontrunner to the next Conservative leader and prime minister, made the remark at the penultimate leadership hustings in Norwich, to loud applause.

Her comment came at the end of the hustings during a series of “quickfire questions” posed by the host, TalkTV’s Julia Hartley-Brewer.

When asked the same question Mr Sunak said Mr Macron was a “friend”.

One Conservative minister said Ms Truss’s comments had “completely undermined our relationship with France”, calling her a “faux Thatcher”, a reference to the infamously Eurosceptic former Tory prime minister.

In a tweet, former foreign minister Alistair Burt said Ms Truss has made a “serious error” and should have struck a more diplomatic tone.

Former Conservative minister Gavin Barwell also questioned Ms Truss’s comment saying: “You would have thought the foreign secretary was aware we are in a military alliance with France.”

Another ex-Tory minister, David Gauke, said: “There’s playing to the gallery and then there’s letting the prejudices of the gallery go to your head, especially when now is one of the worst times to try to fragment the West.”

Ms Truss’s comments have been picked up by French media, who have highlighted recent tensions between Paris and London.

The UK and France have clashed over several issues in recent years, including migrant boat crossings in the Channel, a military pact between Britain, the US and Australia, and Brexit measures involving Northern Ireland.

Mr Macron has sometimes publicly criticised the Conservative government’s approach.

Last year Mr. Macron reacted angrily  to British Prime Minister Johnson’s public call for France to take back migrants who reach the UK.

The French president accused the UK prime minister of not being “serious” by making the call on Twitter, though they had since been pictured arm-in-arm at a G7 summit in Germany this year.

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