Gavin Williamson risks diplomatic row by saying there is 'no point listening to French politicians'

Posted On: 
16th February 2018

Gavin Williamson has risked a diplomatic rift with France after he asked what the point would be in listening to the country's politicians on how to approach the Syrian conflict.

Gavin Williamson has been tipped as a future Prime Minister.
PA Images

The Defence Secretary's intervention came after Emanuel Macron said France could launch strikes on the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons against civilians.

But Mr Williamson told reporters at a Nato conference Brussels that there would be no reason for the UK to “copy” France. 

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"What is the point in listening to French politicians?,” he said. "We have our own foreign policy, we don't need to copy [others]."

The gaffe comes ahead of Theresa May’s visit to the Munich Security Conference tomorrow, where she will address world leaders about the post-Brexit “security partnership” she is seeking.

And it follows last month’s UK-France summit, where the Prime Minister spoke of the importance of the countries co-operating together.

The visit saw the UK pledge to deploy three UK Chinook helicopters and their crews to the Sahel, in a bid to tackle Islamist extremism.

Mrs May said: "While this summit takes place as the UK prepares to leave the EU, we are and will remain a steadfast partner to our friends and allies.

"And a strong and deep relationship between the United Kingdom and France remains in both of our interests."