France’s Macron: British government does not honour its word

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he delivers a press conference after a European Union (EU) summit held over video conference, at The Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris, on March 25, 2021. - A looming third wave of coronavirus and Europe's struggles to mount a vaccination drive is to dominate the EU video summit, despite a welcome guest appearance by US President. (Photo by BENOIT TESSIER / POOL / AFP)

Relations between France and Britain are strained over fishing, migration and security because the government in London does not do what it says it will, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

Macron, speaking at a news conference, said Britain had pushed for the AUKUS security pact between Britain, Australia and the United States that prompted Australia to cancel a contract with France to buy submarines.

The cancellation of the submarines deal caused an uproar in France, with accusations that its allies had stabbed it in the back. But Macron’s remarks were the first time he publicly accused Britain of being “a fervent promoter” of the rival deal.

“Can I ignore that the British were, it seems, the fervent promoters of a contract which deliberately fought against France’s interest in the Indo-Pacific to build an exclusive alternative vision?” he said.

Britain has said the AUKUS deal was not intended to undermine its defence ties with France.

As far for the migration crisis, over which relations further soured with the drowning deaths of 27 migrants as they tried to cross the Channel to Britain last month, Macron said Britain’s labour policies were to blame.

Britain’s economic model was based on illegal labour, he said, adding that there would be problems as long as that was not fixed.

Britain says it needs France’s cooperation to stem the flow of migrants.

Macron tried however to also strike a more conciliatory tone, telling the same news conference: “I love Britain, I love its people, I crave a government that just wants to work in good faith with us.”

Reporting by Michel Rose, Tassilo Hummel, Matthieu Protard; writing by Christian Lowe and Ingrid Melander, editing by Mark Heinrich and Alex Richardson

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