‘Donnez-moi un break’: UK PM Boris Johnson tells France to ‘get a grip’ over submarine deal

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes part in a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay on June 13, 2021 in Cornwall, United Kingdom.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Ben Stansall/Getty Images
  • British PM Boris Johnson took a swipe at France on Wednesday in “peerless franglais.”
  • “Prenez un grip,” Johnson said of the French backlash against the AUUKUS submarine deal.
  • Johnson also said “donnez-moi un break” (“give me a break”), another expression not used in French.
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dusted off his French on Wednesday to poke fun at France amid the ongoing feud between the two countries over a controversial submarine deal with Australia.

“What I want to say about that is I just think it’s time for some of our dearest friends around the world to prenez un grip [get a grip] about all this and donnez-moi un break [give me a break],” Johnson said in front of the US Capitol the morning he met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Johnson’s use of the word “grip” could possibly be minsconstrued audibly as “grippe,” the French word for the flu.

Johnson studied French while going to school in Brussels for two years as a kid.

Neither phrase he used has a direct equivalent in French, with a British TV anchor describing Johnson’s quip as “peerless franglais.”

France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia – but not Great Britain – last week over the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal, with France previously having an agreement with Australia to supply them with diesel submarines.

The move was a dramatic escalation from their initial response, when the country cancelled a gala commemorating 240 years of Franco-American relations.

When asked why France did not pull its ambassador from the UK, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “We are familiar with Britain’s permanent opportunism” and called them the “fifth wheel on the carriage.”