The leading contender to become the UK’s next Prime Minister implied Thursday she doesn’t know if French President Emmanuel Macron – the leader of one of Britain’s closest allies – should be considered a “friend or foe.”
Liz Truss, who is the current UK Foreign Secretary, was taking part in a hustings event in Norwich, England, to rally support among Conservative Party members who will choose between her and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson as the leader of the party in September.
The event’s mediator, Julia Hartley Brewer, asked: “President (Emmanuel) Macron - friend or foe?” To which, Truss replied: “The jury’s out!”
Her answer sparked applause from the audience. Truss continued to say: “But if I become Prime Minister, I’ll judge him on deeds not words.”
Britain and France are close NATO allies. They have however been embroiled in a series of disputes since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, particularly over fishing rights and migrant crossings in the English Channel.
Truss, who initially supported remaining in the EU in 2016, changed her stripes and now backs Brexit – saying that her fears before the referendum that it could cause “disruption” were mistaken.
The aspiring Tory leader has threatened to scrap all remaining EU legislation in the UK and override the Brexit deal that Johnson negotiated with Brussels. She has also blamed France and the EU for border checks at Dover, the main port between the UK and France.
The leadership race has seen Truss pledge to slash taxes, tear up EU regulations and encourage private sector growth with low corporation tax. She has said that she will not impose a windfall tax on energy companies despite them posting huge profits during a cost-of-living and energy crisis.
The ballot closes on September 2, and the results will be announced on September 5. The winner becomes leader of the party and prime minister of the UK.
CNN’s Luke McGee contributed to this report.