Former NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson took a swipe at Liz Truss for hitting out at Emmanuel Macron with her ambiguous comments instead of taking a hit at Vladimir Putin amid the Ukraine invasion. During a Tory leadership husting, frontrunner Liz Truss, who still holds her post as Foreign Secretary under Boris Johnson’s Government, said “the jury is still out” when asked whether French President Macron is a “friend of foe”. Despite Ms Truss’ comments, President Macron responded he would not “for a second” hesitate to say, “the United Kingdom is a friend of France.”
Lord Robertson told LBC: “What’s worrying is that one of the candidates for Prime Minister – the one who’s most likely to succeed – is actually at the moment the Foreign Secretary, the job of a diplomat.
“And instead of actually articulating the key issues against President Putin and against what he is doing, she makes casual comments – dismissive comments – about our key ally across the Channel.”
LBC’s Matt Frei then asked: “What did you make of that comment about France being friend or foe, let him be judged by his actions, not by his words as everyone was judging her by her words?”
Between laughter, Lord Robertson said: “I’m flabbergasted,” he noticed a difference in tone the two leaders took.
Lord Robertson said: “I think, you know, President Macron responded in an adult way to what was a very childish comment given in semi-humour.
“She is still the Foreign Secretary of this country,” Lord Reberston erupted, adding: “That is the most remarkable thing that she comes away with a stupid comment about our key ally across the Channel, our key NATO ally.
“She doesn’t seem to think that it matters. That is a sign of gross irresponsibility. And that’s a very, very bad signal about what she might do if she actually became the occupant of Number 10 in ten days’ time.”
Liz Truss made the comments during Thursday’s Tory hustings when Talk TV’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, hosting the event, asked: “President Macron, friend or foe?”
“The jury’s out,” Ms Truss responded to loud applause from Conservative members.
Ms Truss then added: “But if I become prime minister, I would judge him on deeds, not words.”
Rival Rishi Sunak, the underdog in the race to become Prime Minister, had quickly answered “friend” when asked the same question.
Responding to Liz Truss’ veiled attack, President Macron said he had no doubt about Anglo-French relations.
“Listen, it’s never a good thing to lose your bearings in life,” President Macron said. “If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies… then we are headed for serious problems.”
“The British people, the United Kingdom, is a friendly, strong and allied nation, regardless of its leaders, and sometimes in spite of its leaders or the little mistakes they may make when grandstanding,” the French President said.
According to the latest polls, Liz Truss is expected to win the leadership contest by a decisive margin with a 32-point lead over rival Rishi Sunak.