Boris Johnson on French sub complaints: 'Donnez-moi un break'

Boris Johnson on French sub complaints: 'Donnez-moi un break'
© Greg Nash

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed France’s complaints about the United Kingdom's submarine deal with the United States and Australia, saying it was time for the French to “donnez-moi un break.”

Speaking to reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Johnson suggested that it was time for France to lighten up on its anger over the deal, known as the AUKUS.

“I just think its time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip [get a grip] about all this. Donnez-moi un break [give me a break],” Johnson said.

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Under the AUKUS, the U.K and U.S. are working with Australia to see how it can best obtain nuclear submarines. The three will also cooperate on areas like undersea capabilities and quantum technology.

France had sought a multibillion-dollar defense agreement with Australia, and the new partnership of AUKUS means that the European country will miss out on the opportunity.

The deal between the countries prompted France to cancel a planned gala in D.C. and recall its ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia. The decision has also prompted outcry against the American president himself. 

A former French ambassador to the U.S. said that Biden was "a big disappointment all over Europe." 

“You know, Obama didn’t care about Europe. Trump was hostile to Europe. And here you have Biden. And Biden, to be frank, so far is a big disappointment all over Europe,” former ambassador Gérard Araud said. 

Johnson told reporters that the deal was “fundamentally a great step forward for global security.”

“It is not exclusive, it is not trying to shoulder anybody out. It is not adversarial towards China, for instance,” Johnson said. “It is there to intensify links and friendships between three countries in a way that I think will be beneficial for things that we believe in.”

The comments from Johnson come during the British leader's visit to America to meet with Biden. Biden and Johnson each delivered brief remarks from the Oval Office on Wednesday.