Emmanuel Macron brands Boris Johnson a ‘clown’ and ‘knucklehead’

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Emmanuel Macron Brands Boris Johnson A ‘Clown’ And ‘Knucklehead’ Emmanuel Macron Brands Boris Johnson A ‘Clown’ And ‘Knucklehead’
The French president made a scathing assessment of Boris Johnson. Photo: PA
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By Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor

French president Emmanuel Macron has branded British prime minister Boris Johnson a “clown” and a “knucklehead”, according to French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine.

The comments attributed to Mr Macron were made privately to a small group of his advisers during a visit last week to Croatia.

The French president’s scathing assessment of Mr Johnson threatened to fuel the already bitter diplomatic row between London and Paris which has been simmering for weeks.

England's business minister George Freeman suggested the remarks belonged in the “pantomime season” and linked them to the impending French elections.

“Of course, the prime minister isn’t a clown, he is the elected prime minister of this country with a very big mandate, leading this country through the pandemic,” he told Sky News.

The president had already lashed out publicly at Mr Johnson, accusing him of not being “serious” in his response to the capsizing of a migrant boat in the English Channel with the loss of 27 lives.

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But in private he went further, according to Le Canard Enchaine, attacking the British prime minister for seeking to make France a “scapegoat” for Brexit, which had proved “catastrophic” for the UK.

 

“Bojo talks to me, he’s down to earth, everything’s fine, we’re having grown-up discussions, and then he sticks it to us either beforehand or afterwards in an inelegant manner,” Mr Macron is quoted as saying.

“It is very sad to see a great country, with which we could do so much, led by a clown. Johnson has the attitude of a knucklehead.”

President Emmanuel Macron is said to have accused Boris Johnson of trying to make France a scapegoat for Brexit. Photo: Alastair Grant/PA

A senior UK government source insisted that Mr Johnson wants good relations with France but acknowledged they may have to wait until after next year’s presidential election for the situation to improve.

“The Prime Minister continues to be a staunch and public advocate for the strength of the UK-French relationship,” the source said.

“Our approach will not change, even if we have to wait until the other side of the French presidential election for a change of tone.”

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Mr Macron was particularly angry after Mr Johnson posted a letter he had sent to the president setting out his proposals for tackling the migrant crisis on Twitter.

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A French government spokesman accused Mr Johnson of “double speak”, and an invitation for UK home secretary Priti Patel to attend a meeting of ministers from key European countries to discuss the crisis was withdrawn.

The latest flare-up comes after London and Paris have been publicly at odds for weeks over post-Brexit fishing rights and the Northern Ireland Protocol in the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.

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