News of Emmanuel Macron: the French president “scapegoat” of the United Kingdom because he fears the threat of Le Pen | World | New
But he also suggested that ultimately the real threat could come from another source – Xavier Bertrand of the center-right Republicans Party. The French president faces a battle to win a second term – and Dr Joseph Downing believes he is playing his nationalist and populist credentials in an attempt to build support, especially with some of his comments on access to fishing for French ships.
Mr. Macron has launched a series of antagonistic comments in recent weeks that have raised the temperature between Britain and France, including a rant in which he said: “When you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later, you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects which suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility. “
Acknowledging Mr Macron’s tendency to use the UK as a ‘practical scapegoat’, Dr Downing, visiting researcher at the European LSE Institute, told Express.co.uk: ‘One of the The most disturbing trends in French politics for about half a decade is the rise of Eric Zemmour.
“If you look at recent polls, Zemmour is at around 18% or 19% and Marine Le Pen at around 17% and Macron at around 25%.
“So you don’t have to be an astronaut to understand that if you combine those two votes, that’s a problem for Macron.”
Mr. Macron, who had to deal with criticism of his Covid strategy and protests from yellow vests during his presidency, was “certainly concerned” about domestic issues, said Dr Downing.
He said: “For me, this is part of the continuum of the separatism bill where he attacked Muslim NGOs in mosques, which to me is like a conception of terrorism that is 20 years behind.
JUSTIN: “I didn’t listen! Tory Ellwood is bubbling over Boris’ tactics
Dr Downing explained: “He has said on several occasions that the EU must make sure it is clear that leaving has consequences and causes you pain.
There was also an element of anti-English sentiment, he added, stressing: “It’s kind of like going back to 300 years.
“You even have Scots making overtures to the French about independence.”
Explaining Mr Macron’s nationalist pivot, Dr Downing added: “He cannot become a full-fledged Marine Le Pen populist, but he can try to co-opt floating voters.
“The key to it all, the key to this whole election, is the center-right.
“Because if anyone can take votes from him and the far right it will be someone like Xavier Bertrand.
“He doesn’t seem to have that public presence yet, but he’s relatable and likable and there’s a bit of Boris Johnson in the guy.
“He’s not chaotic, but he has that slightly raw side.
“Macron is a bit too robotic I think, a bit too much like Tony Blair.”