Brexit is a 'failure' for the EU says Michel Barnier
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On Thursday, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator, Mr Barnier, announced he wants to be President of France. Speaking on TF1 television, Mr Barnier threw his hat into the ring to be the candidate of the conservative Les Républicains party. The party has yet to decide how it will pick its presidential candidate, with a party primary election one available option.
The announcement did not come as a major surprise, as Mr Barnier had long planned a return to French politics.
Speaking to reporters just weeks after the UK and the EU signed their bilateral trade pact, Mr Barnier said he would “go back to France” and “take back my place” in the Les Républicains party, of which he has been a member for more than 55 years.
While the announcement was not met with particular enthusiasm in Britain, in a recent report, French-born journalist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet argued Britons should actually pray that somehow circumstances shove Mr Barnier into the second round of the elections on April 22, 2022.
She explained: “Any Républicain candidate there is bound to face either Emmanuel Macron, or, more likely, Marine Le Pen, who both, for different reasons, would be catastrophic for harmonious French-British relations.
“Macron is a known quantity, a man enamoured of his own brilliance, who does not understand the British mind and believes international relations are a zero-sum game.
“He has weaponised anti-Britishness in French politics the way many UK politicians have done it against France.
“Macron has redefined himself as the next natural leader of the EU, for which he needs bogeymen.”
Ms Moutet added that National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, though less predictable, is a woman whose party’s mascot has been Jean of Arc from its creation.
She added in her report for The Telegraph: “The likelihood is that she will botch the running of the country, and again she will need an easily-defined bogeyman: the free-trading British and their ilk.
“So hope for the Savoyard tortoise, Barnier, the tall bureaucrat in grey suits. He is neither vindictive nor imaginative. He is amenable to reason, and not terribly ideological. At this stage, it’s the best you may get.”
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In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Ms Le Pen has ridiculed Mr Barnier’s presidential bid, arguing the French politician is simply an EU spokesman.
She said: “Michel Barnier thought he could imagine himself for a moment as a possible presidential candidate.
“It must be noted that his return to the French scene did not arouse any enthusiasm from his own political family.
“But above all, Michel Barnier is no longer seen as a French politician, but as the spokesman of a European Union which is very unpopular in France.
“In a country which voted “Non” to the European constitution in 2005, I believe his candidacy has little chance of success.”
French MEP Philippe Olivier, who also serves as special adviser to Ms Le Pen also claimed Mr Barnier does not stand a chance.
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He added: “Michel Barnier is not even French.
“He is a Europeanist, but not French.
“He is all the more ridiculous because he thinks that maybe because he has achieved something on a European level this would qualify him to represent something for France.
“He thinks the EU can send a governor here, but he doesn’t realise French people don’t want it.
“French people showed that in 2005 when they voted against the EU constitution in a referendum.”
Mr Olivier added: “In France, presidential elections are a contract between a candidate and the people of France.
“It is a bit like voting for a Queen or a King.
“It is evident that a person who has been sent by an international organisation stands absolutely no chance.”
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