Boris Johnson trolled Macron with jibe about vintage wine from ‘when France last won a naval battle’ amid Brexit trade clashes at G7 summit
- PM complained he had repeatedly remineded EU leaders the UK was ‘indivisible’
- Joked wine brought by Mr Macron came from time French last won naval battle
- Emmanuel Macron suggested in talks Northern Ireland is not part of the country
- French premier hit back last night accusing Mr Johnson of launching ‘polemics’
Boris Johnson trolled Emmanuel Macron with a jibe about a vintage wine coming from ‘when the French last won a naval battle’ as the pair clashed at the G7 summit.
The PM made the quip at the gathering in Cornwall amid a rumbling row over Northern Ireland’s Brexit rules.
He kicked off the final behind-closed doors session yesterday with leaders by admitting to being a ‘little heavy-headed’ after their beach barbecue at Carbis Bay the night before.
And he apparently blamed the hangover on the heaviness of the wine Mr Macron had brought, saying it ‘was as old as when the French last won a naval battle’, according to The Sun.
Britain has inflicted famous defeats on the French at sea, including the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Mr Macron is thought to have brought the tipple as a gift for Joe Biden, but the US president left his counterparts to drink it after going to bed early.
The swipe came after Mr Johnson and EU leaders locked horns over the trade restrictions being imposed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK under Brexit terms.
Boris Johnson (right) trolled Emmanuel Macron (left) with a jibe about a vintage wine coming from ‘when the French last won a naval battle’ as the pair clashed at the G7 summit
MrJohnson kicked off the final behind-closed doors session yesterday with leaders by admitting to being a ‘little heavy-headed’ after their beach barbecue at Carbis Bay the night before (pictured)
The PM complained about having to remind other leaders that the UK is ‘indivisible’ after the French president suggested Northern Ireland was not part of the country.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday described Mr Macron’s comments as ‘offensive’ and said it was time for the president and other EU leaders to show ‘a bit of respect’ to the territorial integrity of the UK.
Mr Macron hit back at a press conference last night accusing the PM of launching ‘polemics’ and demanding he ‘stay very calm’.
He claimed it was the Brexit deal signed by Mr Johnson that led to the current impasse – even though the UK argues that the EU is implementing the terms in an unreasonable way.
The row centres on rules that would ban the sale of British sausages and other chilled meats in Northern Ireland from the end of this month.
Under the terms of the Brexit deal, Northern Ireland remains part of the EU’s single market to prevent the need of a border with Ireland.
But ministers say a ‘purist’ approach by the EU to checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland has made the situation intolerable.
The PM is poised unilaterally to extend a ‘grace period’ for chilled meats which is due to expire at the end of this month, despite warnings from the EU that it could spark a trade war.
Mr Johnson and Mr Macron (pictured holding talks on Saturday) locked horns over the trade restrictions being imposed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK under Brexit terms.
Johnson’s China warning to Nato
NATO must combat the growing challenge posed by China, Boris Johnson will warn today.
Speaking at a Nato summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister will warn that the Cold War alliance must address the rising threat posed by China, as well as maintaining its traditional focus on Russia.
Ministers have been alarmed by the increasing muscularity of China’s diplomacy, including a clampdown on human rights in Hong Kong.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson will use today’s summit to ‘outline the need for Nato to look beyond the Euro-Atlantic to address challenges further afield, including in the Indo-Pacific’. A source said: ‘The West’s neighbourhood is much bigger than it used to be. If you look at trade, what happens in the Indo-Pacific in terms of disruption has direct effects here. Nato has to evolve to address that.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘Nato is not just important to the UK’s security, it is our security. Nato owes it to the billion people we keep safe every day to continually adapt and evolve to meet new challenges.’
US President Joe Biden is expected to restate US support for Nato following years in which Donald Trump threatened to pull out.
A government source told the Mail that the EU’s stance meant there were already likely to be shortages of chilled meat products in Northern Ireland next month, because many supermarkets order their goods four weeks in advance.
Mr Johnson has warned he is ready to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol section of the Brexit deal, which would enable the UK to unilaterally suspend all border checks.
Mr Macron is said to have questioned Northern Ireland’s status during face-to-face talks with the PM at the weekend.
Mr Johnson had asked him: ‘How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?’
Mr Macron responded that it was not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse were part of the same country, prompting the PM to snap back: ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country as well.’
Mr Johnson yesterday said some EU leaders needed to ‘get it in to their heads’ that Britain would never accept measures that would drive a wedge between parts of the country.
He added: ‘What I am saying is that we will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK.’
Meanwhile Mr Raab told Sky News: ‘We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK.
‘It is not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.’
Mr Macron yesterday said EU leaders had spent ‘thousands of hours’ discussing British sovereignty during the Brexit negotiations and needed no lessons in it.
Asked about the row, he told reporters: ‘Let’s not waste time on polemics…. France has never questioned British sovereignty or British territorial integrity.’
But he said Brexit was ‘the child of this British sovereignty’ – and claimed that the current row stems directly from the deal negotiated by the PM.
Mr Macron said the EU should not be blamed for ‘certain inconsistencies which were clear from the beginning’.