Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched into a tirade of verbal abuse over French President Emmanuel Macron’s criticism of his government’s response to the refugee crisis fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Johnson’s ex-director of communications, Guto Harri has claimed.
Harri discussed the details of a political fallout between France and Britain just three weeks into the Russo-Ukrainian conflict during his “Unprecedented” podcast with the LBC broadcaster.
The ex-aide claimed that Johnson had called the French president a “c***” and had promised to “punch his lights out” after Macron used an EU summit in March last year to berate Britain for failing to live up to its “grand statements” on asylum.
“I would hope that the Ukrainian men and women who have lived through horror and crossed Europe to reach their families on U.K. territory will be better treated,” Macron said at the time.
The public remarks incensed then-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, according to Harri.
“When the British press was giving the British government a hard time over our response to the refugee crisis, Macron turbocharged it by criticizing Boris pretty directly, and his words were all over the front page of The Guardian,” Harri told listeners.
“Much as Boris is not prone to getting really cross, nor using particularly strong language, this was one where he really flipped. At our morning meeting, with a small gang of us, he just launched into a violent attack on Emmanuel Macron.”
“And basically saying: ‘He’s a four-letter word that begins with ‘c,’ he’s a weirdo, he’s Putin’s lickspittle, we need to go studs up on this one’ — a rugby term that basically means gloves off — ‘we need an orgy of frog-bashing, I’m going to have to punch his lights out’… Pretty strong stuff,” Harri added.
Johnson became one of Ukrainian President Zelensky’s closest allies during his time in office at the outset of the Russian invasion last February, and he regularly visited Kyiv both as prime minister and indeed after.
President Macron, however, has been the subject of criticism by officials in Kyiv and accused of being pro-Russian after tasking Emmanuel Bonne, his foreign policy adviser, to work with China in promoting peace talks.
“If Macron thinks that he can hold negotiations behind the Ukrainian people’s backs, he is deeply wrong,” Oleksiy Danilov, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, said last month.
Despite these accusations, France still recently committed to “train and equip” several Ukrainian battalions and provide Kyiv with “tens of armored vehicles and light tanks” following a meeting between Macron and Zelensky on Sunday.