After years of public rows and even a brief naval stand-off in the Channel, Britain and France are looking to reset their relations under new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron met for the first time as leaders on the sidelines of the UN’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt on Monday. “Friends,” wrote Sunak over a tweeted picture of the two statesmen in an obvious reference to his short-lived predecessor Liz Truss, who said in August she was undecided on whether the French leader was a “friend or foe”. On Wednesday, Macron followed up by announcing that the countries would hold a defence summit at the start of next year, ending years of minimal bilateral meetings. “Our partnership with the United Kingdom must also be raised to another level,” the 43-year-old said during speech in the southern French naval base in Toulon. The objective was to “renew the ambitions of our two countries as friends and allies,” he explained. Macron and Sunak, 42, have much in common at a superficial level, being of similar height and age, as well as sharing a love for slick communications and sharply tailored navy-blue suits. But the similarities run deeper: their fathers were medics, both are privately educated, and each of them had a career in banking before entering politics — Macron at Rothschild, Sunak at Goldman Sachs. Political differences remain, with Sunak a conservative Eurosceptic free-marketeer, while Macron is fervently pro-EU and a believer in strong state intervention. But most importantly, Sunak is seen as a “serious, reflective person” in Paris — unlike his one-time boss Boris Johnson who stepped down as premier in September, former British ambassador to Paris Peter Ricketts told AFP. “The style is important because Boris Johnson’s style clearly grated on the French: the mockery, the playing of the UK-French relationship as a political football for domestic effect, the fact they could never trust what he said,” Ricketts added. “I think there has been a fundamental shift in the tone between ourselves and the French,” British Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride told Sky News on Tuesday.