Only a few weeks after claiming that it was still up in the air whether French President Emmanuel Macron was Britain’s “friend or foe,” Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday repaired relations with France.
On the sidelines of the president’s European Political Community meeting in Prague, which attempted to unite the continent in the face of Russian aggression, Truss and Macron had a private discussion.
In response, the two leaders promised “ambitious” measures to combat illegal immigration in light of the record number of individuals risky crossing the English Channel by boat from northern France.
When Truss ran to succeed Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Party, she said, “jury’s out,” to the satisfaction of the party’s euroskeptic supporters.
But it created questions because she was the foreign minister at the time and ostensibly in control of Britain’s neighbor’s diplomatic relations.
Prior to the meeting on Thursday, she told UK broadcasters that she had collaborated “very, very closely” with the president and the French administration in Paris.
We both agree that the enemy is (Russian President) Vladimir Putin, who has jeopardised freedom and democracy in Europe with his dreadful war in Ukraine and increased energy prices that we are now all having to bear.
Truss responded, “He is a friend,” when asked directly if she thought of him as a friend.
Following their discussion on Thursday, the two leaders made a commitment to hold the next UK-France Summit in 2023 and to find ways to cope with migrant crossings.
They decided to “intensify cooperation on illegal migration within the parameters of international law, to take on criminal organisations trafficking people throughout Europe before sending them on perilous excursions over the English Channel.
It further stated that “Interior Ministers should complete an ambitious package of actions this fall.”
With Truss’s predecessor Boris Johnson, who led the successful effort to remove Britain from the European Union, Macron frequently had tense interactions.
Johnson, who jokingly referred to Macron as “un tres beau buddy” in French, referred to the Anglo-French relationship as being “of great importance.”
The two countries are members of the UN Security Council and close NATO allies.
At the time, Macron downplayed Truss’s comments by declaring that he would not think twice about praising Britain as an ally for a “second.”