UK playing 'subsidiary role' in AUKUS pact, French diplomat insists

19 September 2021, 13:19

By Seán Hickey

The former French ambassador to the US claims the UK has no choice but to play second fiddle to America post-Brexit.

Tom Swarbrick spoke to former French ambassador to the US Gérard Araud as fallout from the AUKUS pact intensifies.

Read more: Enraged France recalls ambassadors to US and Australia over collapsed submarine deal

As the French lost out on a submarine contract with Australia in favour of the AUKUS alliance, Tom wondered whether Mr Araud thought "the British have rather enjoyed this secretly?"

The former UN permanent secretary declared that "we know that in terms if nuclear technology...the UK is heavily dependent on the US", and suggested that the UK had to tag along.

"For us the UK has in a sense, had a subsidiary role in the manoeuvring."

Read more: AUKUS alliance 'the consequence of Chinese behaviour', declares ex-Aussie foreign Minister

He added that "the problem is in Washington DC and Canberra" rather than London, which is why the French have not withdrawn their UK ambassador.

Read more: What is AUKUS? Why has the deal been struck? And why is France so angry?

Tom asked for clarification on the comments: "The United Kingdom is therefore what? Playing the big player?"

Mr Araud declared that the UK was more so "defending national interest because of Brexit".

"Because of Brexit, the UK won't have any other choice [than] becoming the brilliant second of the US and that's what unfortunately is happening."

"The French for whatever reason just don't seem to be trusted" when it comes to nuclear capabilities, Tom quipped.

The diplomat noted that "if you knew the deals we had with the UK in terms of nuclear cooperation", there wouldn't be an assumption that France was left out for incompetence.

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