Boris Johnson rolls out the red carpet for French president Emmanuel Macron

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed Emmanuel Macron to Number 10 as part of the French president's brief visit to London to commemorate the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s famous Second World War address.

The French leader and Mr Johnson spoke about the coronavirus economic recovery, post-Brexit trade talks and illegal migration during their meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Earlier, the French leader gave a speech thanking London for giving his Second World War countrymen and women a voice and platform to fight Nazi tyranny.

During his meeting with Mr Johnson, the two leaders reflected on the "on the enduring strength of the UK-France relationship," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“They highlighted the modern-day successes of this friendship including the political and defence cooperation enshrined in the Lancaster House Agreement 10 years ago.

“The Prime Minister and president also welcomed the ongoing cooperation between the UK and France on small boats and illegal migration.

“They agreed that the partnership between our countries will be crucial in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring the global recovery is green and sustainable.”

Mr Macron, speaking in French in the shadow of General de Gaulle’s statue in Carlton Gardens, in central London, where the Free French had their headquarters, said: “Yes, Britain gave shelter to France.

“This is where de Gaulle was able to form the first ranks of the French army which would go on fighting. The soldiers of London.

“This is where de Gaulle was able to call on the French people to join the resistance. The soldiers of the shadows.

“Because 80 years ago today, on June 18 1940, the United Kingdom gave Free France its first weapon, a BBC microphone.

“So the airwaves carried de Gaulle’s determined words and spirit of resistance, which built a bridge across the Channel for those refusing to be enslaved or give up their freedom.”

Macron lays a wreath at the foot of the statue of Charles de Gaulle during a ceremony at Carlton Gardens in London. Credit: AP

Behind the president was the framed insignia of France’s highest decoration, the Legion d’Honneur, awarded to London for its support of France during the Second World War.

Mr Macron had been welcomed to Britain for his brief visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who stood nearby.

Listening to the open-air address were French and British dignitaries including the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Johnson and his French counterpart observed a flypast of the Red Arrows and their French equivalent, La Patrouille de France, to mark the anniversary of the Appel.

The prime minister and Mr Macron maintained social distancing as they stood in Horse Guards Parade to watch the spectacle.

Mr Johnson gave Emmanuel Macron a framed montage containing a telegram sent by Charles de Gaulle to Sir Winston Churchill on VE Day, Downing Street said.

The montage also include Churchill’s reply, and a photograph of the wartime leaders in Paris shortly after the liberation.

Mr Macron and Duchess of Cornwall adhering to social distancing measures. Credit: PA

The French president arrived in London after attending events in his homeland to commemorate De Gaulle’s rallying cry on the BBC, made in June 1940, when he urged the people of France to resist the Nazi occupation.

The wartime leader of the Free French said: “I call upon all French servicemen of the land, sea, and air forces; I call upon French engineers and skilled armaments workers who are on British soil, or have the means of getting here, to come and join me.”

During his address, a pivotal moment in his country’s history, he added: “I call upon all Frenchmen who want to remain free to listen to my voice and follow me.”

Emmanuel Macron with Prince Charles at Clarence House. Credit: PA