Speaking at a press conference after Friday’s European Council summit in Brussels, the French president was asked about previous comments where had had branded Brexiteers “liars”.
“I never described Boris Johnson the way you did,” Mr Macron replied.
“He is sometimes a colourful character, but it can be the case for all of us. He is who he is, but I believe he is a leader with genuine strategic vision, and those who did not take him seriously were wrong and will continue to be wrong.”
The judgement appears to be a turnaround for the British prime minister in the eyes of the president of the republic. Mr Macron in September last year suggested that Brexit was “a choice pushed by those who predicted easy solutions”, adding: “They are liars, they left the next day so they didn’t have to manage it.”
The comments were widely assumed at the time to refer to politicians like Mr Johnson, who spearheaded the Vote Leave campaign to leave the bloc.
Speaking at the same press conference the president also poured cold water on suggestions that there could be a further extension to the Brexit Article 50 period, telling reporters: “So that we can turn to the future, I believe that we shall stick to the deadline of 31 October.
“That being said, I’m not trying to read the future, but I do not think we shall grant any further delay.
“I believe it is now time to put an end to these negotiations and work on the future relationship and put an end to what is currently ongoing.
“Like I said, there shall be no delay unless there are some major changes.”
MPs are set to vote on whether to approve the Brexit deal struck by Boris Johnson during an extraordinary sitting of the House of Commons on Saturday, with the numbers looking extremely tight.
In an apparent bid to pile pressure on British MPs, other EU leaders also questioned whether an extension could be granted. Leo Varadkar, the Irish taoiseach, said after the meeting: “I don’t think any MP should make the assumption that there would be unanimity for an extension.”
But it comes amid reports in the Guardian newspaper that Angela Merkel privately told EU leaders on Thursday night that an extension would be unavoidable in the event that the Commons rejected the deal.