Macron 'brands Johnson a clown' in spat over migrant crisis

2 December 2021, 06:06 | Updated: 2 December 2021, 07:43

French president Emmanuel Macron reportedly made disparaging comments about Boris Johnson.
French president Emmanuel Macron reportedly made disparaging comments about Boris Johnson. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

French president Emmanuel Macron reportedly called Johnson "a clown" as tensions rise over the migrant Channel crisis.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The French media reported that Mr Macron privately made disparaging comments about the UK Prime Minister as the pair's diplomatic spat heightened following the deaths of 27 people in the Channel last week.

According to the Times and the Telegraph, satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné - often described as the French equivalent of Private Eye - said Mr Macron called Mr Johnson a “clown” and a “knucklehead”.

Mr Macron reportedly said: “It is sad to see a major country with which we could do huge numbers of things being led by a clown."

Read more: France suggests Boris Johnson 'regrets Brexit' as migrant crisis row continues

Read more: Macron's anger 'nothing to do with Brexit' but 'peculiar resentment' towards UK

Le Canard Enchaîné also quoted the French leader as saying: “BoJo talks to me at full speed, everything is going fine, we have discussions like big people, and then he gives us a hard time before or afterwards in an inelegant way. It’s always the same circus.”

It comes amid rising tension between Number 10 and the Élysée Palace after Mr Johnson tweeted a letter sent to Mr Macron in search of a solution to the crisis in the English Channel.

In the letter, the Prime Minister demanded France takes back people who manage to cross the English Channel to Britain, following the tragic death of at least 27 people in the Channel.

Read more: Channel deaths: Kurdish victim, 24, was 'glowing with hope' to reach fiancé in UK

The letter enraged France, to the extent that the country’s Interior Ministry uninvited UK home secretary Priti Patel from a meeting of leading European ministers in Calais to discuss the crisis.

Mr Macron himself said Mr Johnson's decision to post his letter on Twitter suggested he was "not serious".

He said at a press conference last week: “We do not communicate from one leader to another on these issues by tweets and letters that we make public. We are not whistleblowers.”

The Times reported that a senior UK Government source said: "The Prime Minister continues to be a staunch advocate for the strength of the UK-French relationship."