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G20: Scott Morrison accused of leaking private texts between himself and Emmanuel Macron

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Scott Morrison has been accused of leaking private text messages between himself and Emmanuel Macron, who has accused the PM of lying. Scott Morrison has been accused of leaking private text messages between himself and French President Emmanuel Macron in an extraordinary escalation of the diplomatic crisis. On Monday, the French President said, “I don’t think, I know,” when quizzed by journalists if he thought the Prime Minister had lied to him about canceling the $90bn submarine contract with Australia. Less than 24 hours after the French President publicly accused the Prime Minister of lying, private text correspondence promptly emerged, undermining Mr. Macron’s account.

The text messages, published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday at 6 pm, were provided as evidence by an unnamed source to prove that Macron knew the subs deal was in trouble long ago. “Macron messaged the Prime Minister to say that he was not available when Australia was seeking a call and said, “Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions?’’ the report stated. The prime minister’s office’s decision to leak private correspondence between Scott Morrison and the French President for domestic consumption would be an extraordinary diplomatic move.

Speaking in Glasgow, ABC’s political editor Andrew Probyn challenged the Prime Minister directly regarding whether he or his office had leaked the private text messages at his instruction. “Why did you decide to leak that text message,’’ the Prime Minister was asked. After dodging the question, the Prime Minister was asked again, “why the messages were leaked.” Mr. Morrison did not deny they were leaked but said, “I am not going to indulge your editorial on it.” “What I will say is this. We were contacted when we were trying to set up the call. (The French President) He was concerned that this would be a phone call that could result in a decision by Australia not to proceed.”

Scott Morrison

He was also asked in the press conference whether he replied to the reported text message from Mr. Macron, effectively confirming the text messages as written were accurate by saying that he had. The leaked text messages, designed to challenge the French President’s claim that the Prime Minister is a liar, were also published by The Australian Financial Review on Monday night. But texts also appear to confirm the French President was in the dark about the AUKUS deal and the cancellation two days before it was announced on live TV. The AFR report, published at 8.55 pm, also stated that the French President told Scott Morrison in June, “I don’t like losing,” after the Prime Minister informed him over dinner that Australia felt the French submarines were unfit for purpose.

During the press conference in Glasgow, Mr. Morrison provided the most comprehensive public account of his reasoning behind breaking the contract with France and his attempts to explain to the French President that the agreement was in trouble. The report replicated, word for word, the text messages The Daily Telegraph had claimed to have been sent in September by the French President, two days before Mr. Morrison announced the formation of the AUKUS alliance. The report also stated that Mr. Macron messaged the Prime Minister to ask: “Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions?’’ citing unnamed government sources.

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