A minister has hit back at Emmanuel Macron after he was reported to have called Boris Johnson a “clown”, branding the remark “unhelpful” and suggesting the French President was engaging in pre-election “pantomime”.
Mr Macron is said to have made the comments to a small group of advisers following the bitter row between the UK and France over the Channel migrants crisis.
The Elysee Palace has not denied Mr Macron made the remarks while Downing Street believes the President has stepped up his anti-UK rhetoric in recent weeks to improve his chances of being re-elected next April.
Asked to respond to the remarks by Sky News on Thursday morning, the Science Minister George Freeman said: “I think we are into pantomime season aren’t we - and there’s a French election coming. It’s a pretty unhelpful word. Of course the Prime Minister isn’t a clown.
“He is the elected Prime Minister of this country with a very big mandate leading this country through a pandemic, The truth is we are looking to work very closely with France on the border issue, on tackling the problem of European migration at source. That’s why we are investing in trying to stabilise countries so people aren’t coming here.
“And with France we need to make sure people in France aren’t being supplied with boats and being pushed out into the Channel.
“The Home Secretary is working closely with French counterparts on it and the Prime Minister and the UK Government is looking for a sensible conversation with France abut it. I’m confident Anglo French relations are actually better than that quote suggests.”