The Good Morning Britain presenter asked Mr Wallace if he “didn’t trust the French” during a heated discussion during Thursday’s episode of the news programme. The Defence Secretary appeared on the ITV show to discuss the Government’s reshuffle and the new landmark nuclear partnership just announced between UK, US and Australia. However, he found himself admitting there was “no intention” to undermine the French.
During the segment, Mr Wallace went into detail with hosts Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid about the deal signed by the UK, US and Australia which will allow Australia to build nuclear submarines with the aid of the two countries
Wallace said: “This is not about nuclear weapons, there’s no commitment or talk from any of the partners for this. This is about a new strategic capability.
“Currently, Australia has diesel submarines and whilst they have their strengths, one of their weaknesses is that eventually they have to break the surface in order to recharge their batteries and continue doing their task.
“That means they become quite easily detectable at some stages and if you want to remain undetected, underwater and be able to patrol very, very long distances… nuclear power for your submarine is one of the areas to do that.”
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Wallace continued: “Do I think this is Cold War, as the Chinese said? No, I don’t.
“China itself has probably invested in the biggest defence system on the planet.
“It has grown its Navy, Air Force etc significantly in the last few years.
“Only recently it started test-firing more missiles and I think it’s perfectly legitimate for all the nations in the Pacific to make sure that they keep pace or keep a strategic advantage to protect their own interests.”
But the minister was quizzed on matters closer to home after a nuclear deal with France was subsequently scrapped because of the new alliance which has enraged the neighbouring country
On the French not being included within this deal, Wallace spoke about how only the five eyes countries “being the most trusted military allies and partners” would have been approached.
He admitted there was “no intention” to undermine the French having spoken to his French counterpart yesterday.
He added: “Of course France would be disappointed from an industrial point of view, they have lost a contract. Britain still regards France as one of its strategic allies…”
A shocked Shephard asked Wallace: “So you don’t trust the French then?
Wallace replied to correct Shephard on the matter and explained it was simply a decision that was made.
French leaders have called it a “stab in the back” with defence analysts saying the construction timeline given by France was too slow.
Submarines were not expected to be complete until 2035.
Wallace also said his country has “no intention of doing anything to antagonise the French”.
During the interview, the minister also spoke about the cabinet restructure, saying: “Some of my friends lost their jobs yesterday for no reason. Not for not being loyal, good friends, just as it is in politics, and it is a brutal game. In the end, it’s up and out, and that’s happened forever really, for history.
“It will happen to me one day. It was not inevitable that I was going to stay in this job. It will happen when the Prime Minister needs to make a job.”
Good Morning Britain airs on weekdays from 6am on ITV and ITV Hub.
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