By Bianca Nobilo and Amy Cassidy, CNN
The main contender to become the UK’s next Prime Minister hinted on Thursday that she is unsure whether 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 British Foreign Secretary, was taking part in an election campaign in Norwich, England, to rally support from Conservative Party members who will choose between her and former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson at the head of the party. in September.
Event mediator Julia Hartley Brewer asked: “President (Emmanuel) Macron – friend or foe? To which, Truss replied, “The jury is out!”
His response drew applause from the audience. Truss went on to say, “But if I become prime minister, I will judge him by 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, including over fishing rights and migrant crossings in the English Channel.
Truss, who initially backed staying in the EU in 2016, has changed his stripes and now backs Brexit – saying his pre-referendum fears that it could cause ‘disruption’ were wrong.
The aspiring Tory leader threatened to scrap everything remaining European legislation in the UK and cancel the Brexit deal that Johnson brokered with Brussels. She also blamed France and the EU for border controls at Dover, the main port between the UK and France.
The leadership race saw Truss pledge to cut taxes, tear up EU regulations and encourage private sector growth with low corporate taxes. She said she would not impose a windfall tax on energy companies, despite making huge profits during a cost of living and energy crisis.
Voting closes September 2 and the results will be announced September 5. The winner becomes leader of the party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
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CNN’s Luke McGee contributed to this report.