Le Pen ‘unlikely’ to beat Macron in French election says expert
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The French president celebrates his 44th birthday on Tuesday after a year of swipes against Britons. This year began with Mr Macron claiming Brexit was the product of lies and false promises in his New Year TV address to France.
Channel 4 correspondent Paul McNamara described the claim as a “mix of regret, sadness and bitterness at this divorce” while Brexiteer Tory MP Peter Bone told said: “I guess president Macron doesn’t like democracy.”
Mr Macron, speaking from the Elysee Palace, said: “A few days ago, we reached an agreement to organise our future relations, defending our interests, our industries, our fishermen and our unity.
“The United Kingdom remains our neighbour but also our friend and ally. This choice of leaving Europe, this Brexit, was the child of European malaise and lots of lies and false promises.”
That friendship was tested at the end of January when an embattled Mr Macron alleged Anglo-Swedish drug giant AstraZeneca and the British Government had engaged in “questionable behaviour” aimed at disrupting the flow of Covid vaccines into Europe.
Emmanuel Macron (Image: Express)
Mr Macron reportedly called Boris Johnson ‘un clown’ in private (Image: Getty)
Senior British officials said Mr Macron’s incendiary remarks exposed the “enormous political pressure” he was under at home with his nose-diving popularity rating, a disastrously slow jabs rollout and far-right leader Marine Le Pen outpolling him.
Mr Macron told reporters: “The real problem on AstraZeneca is that it doesn’t work the way we were expecting it to. We’re waiting for the EMA [European Medicines Agency] results, but today everything points to thinking it is quasi-ineffective on people older than 65, some say those 60 years or older.”
Later the same day, the EMA gave it the green light, saying its scientific experts considered the vaccine can be used in older adults.
French far-right party Rassemblement National candidate Marine Le Pen (Image: Getty)
Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte (Image: Getty)
Earlier this month French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchainé claimed Mr Macron called Prime Minister Boris Johnson “un clown” within his close circle.
The jibe was picked up by German media outlet Welt which published an article about the relationship between Mr Johnson and Mr Macron with the headline: “Johnson, a clown? Pull yourself together, Macron!”
Reports suggested Mr Macron had also said in private that the British Prime Minister has a “knucklehead” attitude and was trying to scapegoat his country for Brexit.
Downing Street described the leaders’ working relationship as good. This in spite of Mr Macron allegedly likening relations between Paris and London to a circus.
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Emmanuel Macron (Image: Express)
He later took a pop at the UK, US and Australia after they announced officials would boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Mr Macron said: “We must not politicise the Olympics.
“As with all things on the international stage, I prefer to do things that have a useful effect.”
Last month, the French president accused the UK of playing with his country’s nerves in a post-Brexit row over fishing licences.
France’s president speaks during a news conference following the European Union leaders summit (Image: Getty)
He said during a visit to Aulnoye-Ameries in northern France: “We have not got what we wanted. They are playing with our nerves. We will not yield.”
The fishing row and migrant crisis unravelling in the English Channel has been labelled as an attempt by Mr Macron to “punish” the UK for Brexit.
EU expert Gabriel van de Bloemfontein told Express.co.uk that Mr Macron was taking advantage of his position in the EU.
The Nexit Denktank researcher said: “If we talk about Macron and France, it’s not just about the fisheries deals. We also see it with the migration crisis in the Channel.
“To me, this is a hybrid war that France is pushing against the UK. I am not the only one who thinks this is to punish the UK for Brexit.”
Mr Macron has also blamed Britain’s labour policy for drawing migrants across the Channel.
He said Britain’s economic model was based on illegal labour, adding there would be problems as long as that was not fixed.
Mr Macron, whose great-grandfather was a Bristol shopkeeper, then tried to strike a more conciliatory tone, saying: “I love Britain. I love its people. I crave a government that just wants to work in good faith with us.”