Angry French President Emmanuel Macron has publicly accused Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, of lying to him about the scrapped submarine deal. 

The diplomatic tensions between the countries have escalated after Australia pulled out of a $90 million deal with France to produce its next generation of submarines.

After a tense exchange at the G20 Summit, Rome, the French President expressed his feelings about Morrison in a fiery exchange that lasted hours.

 ‘We will see what he will deliver,’ Mr Macron told reporters on Sunday.

An awkward handshake in Rome between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre right) and French President Emmanuel Macron (centre left)

An awkward handshake in Rome between Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister, (centre right), and Emmanuel Macron (centre Left).

“I have a lot to respect your country, and a lot to respect and be friends with your people. I will just say that respect requires honesty and that you behave in accordance with this value.

The French president was asked whether the Australian prime minister had lied.

Macron responded, “I don’t think, I’m sure,” before cutting off any further questions.

Since then, Mr Morrison has retracted the claims at a press conference.

He replied “No” when asked if President Macron had lied to him.

He said that the decisions he makes for Australia’s best interest are his. 

Morrison repeated his commitment to Australia’s interests by saying, “I will always stand up for its interests,”

“I won’t abandon it for a second. These are difficult decisions. It was disappointing and had a negative impact on the relationship with France.

He also said that he had already explained to Mr Macron, “very clearly” a few month ago that the submarines purchased from France were not going to be of any use to Australia’s interest.

French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured with wife Brigitte earlier this month) has accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying

French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured earlier this month with his wife Brigitte) has accused Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison of lying

Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s federal treasurer, defended the Prime Minister but acknowledged that growing tensions between Australia & France are ‘challenging diplomatically.

According to Mr Frydenberg, “It has been ever since the announcement,” he said on Monday’s Today show.

We’ll work through it. It was great that they had it – the leaders had that they both had – they had that call yesterday. 

“There are areas in which we can work together, and increase that level. However, the AUKUS deal sets Australia up for many decades ahead, which is why it is so important for Australia’s national interest.

In an earlier part of the program, David Littleproud, Agriculture Minister, accused President Macron being unreasonable. 

Hours after they had shared an awkward handshake at G20 summits, Mr Macron lashed at Mr Morrison. 

The leaders met briefly in Rome on the sidelines to the G20 summit. This was just two days after the first phone call between the leaders since Australia had opted for nuclear-powered submarines as a partnership with the US, Britain and the AUKUS pact.

Morrison said to reporters that he briefly bumped into the French leader, and that he’said good-bye’ and that he hoped they could continue speaking later. 

After revelations that Mr Macron had for weeks refused to answer a call from Mr Morrison, their icy phone conversation continued.

According to reports, Mr Macron called Mr Morrison before he left for Europe in a tense phone conversation. He told him that he had ‘broken trust between our two countries’. 

“It is now up for the Australian government, to propose tangible actions that embody Australia’s highest authorities to redefine our bilateral relationship. Continue joint action in Indo-Pacific,” a statement by President Macron’s Office stated. 

An Australian Collins class submarine (front) and the UK nuclear-powered attack submarine, HMS Astute (rear) are seen at HMAS Stirling Royal Australian Navy base in Perth on October 29, 2021. Australia is committed to getting its first nuclear-powered submarines built and operating as quickly as possible, says Defence Minister Peter Dutton, after pulling out of a $90billion deal to have France make its next generation of submarines

On October 29, 2021, an Australian Collins class submarine (front) is accompanied by the UK nuclear-powered attack sub HMS Astute (rear), at HMAS Stirling Royal Australian Navy Base in Perth. After France pulled out of a $90billion agreement to build its next generation of submarines, Australia is determined to get its first nuclear powered submarines built and operational as soon as possible, says Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

Before he flew into Rome, Mr Morrison played down any possibility of meeting Mr Macron. 

He said, “I don’t think this’s likely to happen this time,” 

“I believe it will happen eventually. But we just have to give him a little space, give him some space.

“I mean, we had the decision to make in the national interest. Maybe we’ll catch up someday.” For now, it’s best to give our friends some space.

The plan to avoid Mr Macron in Rome was ruined when the leaders unexpectedly found their way just metres apart. 

Morrison stated that he said g’day, g’day to reporters in Rome.

“He was having a talk to someone, I went up, just put my arm around his shoulder, and just said “g’day Emmanuel”, and “look forward” to catching up over he next couple of days.”

“That’s how these events work, and he was happy for us to exchange greetings.”

Before meeting Mr Morrison Mr Macron had previously met Joe Biden. The US President  expressed great concern about the handling of the secret plan to dump France from the submarine project, saying it was ‘clumsy’ and ‘not done with a lot of grace’.

President Macron was told by Mr Biden that he was under the impression France was informed well before the deal was canceled.

“I honestly to God didn’t know that you hadn’t been.”

Mr Morrison wouldn’t be drawn on whether Mr Biden had gotten him in deeper trouble with France.

He said that he had had a candid conversation about the French President and would leave his remarks to him.

French fury at Mr Morrison’s and the Australian Government’s inability to be informed about the decision not to terminate the $90 billion submarine contract has caused French fury. 

The French government was informed by Australia that it was abandoning the deal hours before Mr Morrison. Mr Biden and Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, hosted a trilateral press conference to discuss the new AUKUS security and defense pact.

Jean-Pierre Thebault was France’s ambassador in Australia. He was recalled in September following the cancellation of the submarine deal. However, he has since returned home to Canberra.

The French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told his country’s parliament he asked the ambassador to go back to Australia with two missions: ‘To define our relationship with Australia in the future… and firmly defend our interests in the implementation of Australia’s decision to terminate the submarine program.’

Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives at the G20 summit of world leaders to discuss climate change, Covid-19 and the post-pandemic global recovery at the La Nuvola center G20 Summit, Rome, Italy

Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, arrives at G20 Summit of World Leaders to discuss climate change, Covid-19 as well as post-pandemic global Recovery at the La Nuvola center G20 Summit. Rome, Italy

There are fears that Australia’s abandonment to the French submarine deal could cause a major reversal of a potential free trade accord with the European Union.

Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) said that the deal cancellation was a result of a lot of open issues. She added that “One of our member countries has been treated in an unacceptable manner.”

France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune said France could halt progress on an EU-Australia trade deal which has been under negotiation since mid-2018.

Politico was told by he that “Keeping one’s word” is the condition for trust between democracies as well as allies.

“So it is not possible to move forward in trade negotiations with a country that we no longer trust. 

According to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade data, Australia’s bilateral trade with the EU was worth $78.7 million in the 2019-20 financial years.