Sacré phew!

Allons, enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

Since the results of the UK referendum to leave the EU were announced, some of the more hard-line Leavers have been trumpeting about a new world (or at least European) order.

The UK decision would, they said, just be the start of the dismantling of the EU, with the election throughout the remaining countries of rapidly anti-EU governments. Such as that of France’s Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front party.

Well, that didn’t go to plan then.

The election of Emmanuel Macron, the defiantly centrist candidate, shows that no matter how popular Madame Le Pen is – and the far right party has always had a very strong standing in French politics – she wasn’t quite popular enough to get elected.  

The decidedly pro-EU Macron, however, was and did. How that will affect the UK’s ability to Brexit with our economy and our pride intact remains to be seen.

Macron may, on paper, not be a good thing for Brexit. He’s gone on record to say that he doesn’t really see why the UK should benefit unduly from Brexit and is likely to work more closely with Germany to strengthen the EU.

However, in much the same way as the EU would welcome Teresa May’s team negotiating from a position of a strong mandate – hence the general election – it surely has to be an easier option for the UK negotiating with a stronger EU, one that knows what it wants and isn’t afraid of falling apart at the seams. Which would undoubtedly have been the case had Madame Le Pen won. Plus, he’s going to have quite a job on nis hands in trying to bring the increasingly polarised French electorate closer together, so he’s unlikely to have the time to spend devising punishments for Britain for walking away from the EU table.

Still, if for no other reason, I rather like Macron for having taken the proverbial out of Donald Trump at his Lyon rally, telling supporters: “I don’t want to build a wall. I can assure you there’s no wall in my programme. Can you remember the Maginot Line?” and for encouraging US climate change researchers to come to France.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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