Why Boris Johnson will be delighted with French Conservatives’ election nomination
Brexit: Barnier says agreement ‘not respected by London’
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Valarie Pécresse has fought off Michel Barnier to become the Republican candidate for the French presidential elections in 2022. No doubt Boris Johnson has breathed a sigh of relief, as the former chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, had a testy relationship with the PM.
Ms Pécresse has beaten the likes of Michel Barnier and Eric Ciotti to become the Republican’s next presidential candidate.
Mr Barnier’s eviction from the presidential race will no doubt cause celebration in Downing Street.
Mr Barnier advocated punishing Brexit terms which soured his relationship with many British politicians.
The former chief Brexit negotiator’s outing from the presidential race will surely come as a personal relief to Mr Johnson, as Mr Barnier has blasted the PM over his Brexit negotiations.
In his 500-page secret diary of Brexit negotiations, La Grande Illusion (The Grand Illusion), Mr Barnier targeted the PM, labelling him as “childish” and “not up to the task”.
It’s not just Ms Pécresse’s ousting of Mr Barnier that would’ve caused her to gain favour with Boris Johnson, however. Her tougher stance on immigration could cause the PM fewer headaches in the future.
Downing Street is currently facing a fresh wave of criticism for its handling of the migrant crisis.
It comes after record numbers of migrants made the Channel crossing this year.
According to data released by the Home Office, the number of migrants crossing the English Channel has risen almost one hundred-fold over the past three years.
So far this year almost 26,000 people are thought to have crossed the Channel on a small boat to reach Britain.
Like many right-wing politicians in France, Ms Pécresse has pledged to take a tougher stance on immigration.
She promises to “restore French pride” and defend “family values.”
In her victory speech, she said: “I feel the anger of people who feel impotent in the face of violence and the rise of Islamist separatism, who feel their values and lifestyle are threatened by uncontrolled immigration.”
Her policies include cutting the number of residence permits issued for non-EU migrants by half.
If elected, she intends to hold a referendum to change constitutional law and introduce immigration quotas.
Ms Pécresse has been keen to align her politics to that of Mr Johnson’s idol, former Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Ms Pécresse described herself as “one-third Thatcher, two-thirds Merkel”, a description which will undoubtedly delight Mr Johnson.
Not only do the pair share an idol, but the republican candidate also has a key career parallel with Mr Johnson.
She is the head of the regional government in Île-de-France, which includes Paris, a similar role to Mr Johnson’s previous role as Mayor of London.
But Mr Johnson’s hopes of France selecting a president with views more aligned to his own, maybe thwarted in the first round of presidential elections in 2022.
The latest option polls have shown that Ms Pécresse is forecast to win about 11 percent of the votes at best, in the first round of the French presidential elections next April.
This means she will have to make up considerable ground if she has any hope of making it to the second round of elections, let alone winning it overall.
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