MUCH of the coverage of the French reaction to AUKUS focuses on the loss of the commercial contract.

However, there is something much more profound at stake here for France. From the French point of view it has been betrayed and humiliated by an “Anglosphere” trio comprising Britain and two of its former colonies, one of whom ironically France helped to liberate from London rule.

So how should France teach the Anglosphere some manners? France was the biggest proponent of a greater EU role in Asia. Spurned now by the Anglos, it is predicted that France will turn to its European allies, whom she trusts and relies on as EU members as well as Nato partners, to develop a Europe-first strategy to Asia.

One option to bring the Anglos down a peg or two may not be immediate or obvious. However, it would both significantly expand the geographic footprint of the EU members of Nato and impose heavy costs on the UK.

France was the midwife of American independence. Now Mr Macron can do the same for Scotland, a nation with whom France held a mutual defence pact for hundreds of years which Charles de Gaulle described as ‘the oldest alliance in the world’.

Earlier this month the Scottish Government set out its Programme for Government. Covid permitting, there will be a referendum on Scottish independence in the next two years. That will need international recognition, especially from EU members, if Boris Johnson sticks to his current Trumpian position of not recognising a legal democratic vote.

In the circumstances, aiding the expression of Scottish self-determination seems a reasonable path for France. London would be required to construct a new base in England for the British nuclear submarine fleet, currently based entirely in Scotland, at a cost estimated from £4 billion to £10bn or more. That would put a big dent in any financial gains the UK hopes to make from AUSUK.

While polls put support for independence at 50% now, long-term polling by age group suggests independence is inevitable in 10 years. France has an opportunity to play an historic role and declare that it would recognise the referendum.

UK without Scotland would undergo a profound identity crisis. Its flag would need to be redesigned, as would that of Australia. France needs to heal after the bruising inflicted by the Anglosphere and sundering the mother country of the Anglosphere is starting to look like France’s strategic interest. And besides, schadenfreude is an underrated form of therapy.

David Mungall


IN your article covering the revelation that Jeremy Paxman would vote for Scottish independence if there were to be a second referendum, you quote a UK Government spokeswoman as saying: “The sole priority of the UK Government is on continuing to roll out the UK’s life-saving vaccine programme and recovering from the health and economic emergency. It is our duty and our sole responsibility.”

It must then be a different UK Government that has in the past 12 months, among other measures, introduced the Internal Market Act that undermines the devolution settlement, the Electoral Integrity Bill requiring voter ID at elections, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which gives authorities wider powers to restrict demonstrations, and the Judicial Review and Courts Bill to restrict the ability to challenge Government actions in court.

The spokespersons of the UK Government are as unacquainted with truth as their political masters.

Gavin Brown