ALGIERS    -    President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called Britain an ally, “whoever its leaders”, after Liz Truss, favourite to become UK premier, said “the jury’s out” on whether the French leader was Britain’s “friend or foe”.

“The British people, the United Kingdom, is a friendly, strong and allied nation, regardless of its leaders, and sometimes in spite of its leaders or the little mistakes they may make in grand­standing,” Macron told reporters during a visit to Algeria. Truss, 47, leads former finance minister Rishi Sunak by wide margins in polls of the Tory grassroots set to choose their next leader, who will then become prime minister. 

On Thursday, asked a question at a hustings event, she told applauding Conservative party members: “If I become prime minister, I would judge him on deeds not words.”

TRUSS ADDED: “THE JURY’S OUT.”

Britain and France are allies at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization political and military alliance, but have differences on a number of issues, particularly after Britain’s departure from the European Union. The two countries also have contrasting approaches to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During a press con­ference after visiting a cemetery in Algiers, Ma­cron responded: “If we are not capable, between France and Britain, of saying whether we are a friend or enemy -- the term is not neutral -- we are heading towards serious problems.”

He said “it’s never good to lose your bearings in life” and added that if he were asked the ques­tion, he wouldn’t hesitate “for a second”.