When Marine Le Pen lost last year’s French presidential election to Emmanuel Macron in what appeared to be a landslide, the establishment breathed a sigh of relief because not only was the notorious Eurosceptic populist defeated, but also the wind appeared to be turning, and after a tumultuous 2016, 2017 started off with a bang for the unelected Eurocrats in Brussels. After all, the people had spoken and they wanted more Europe (and Euro), not less.
Or maybe not.
The French president sent shockwaves across Europe after he conceded that French voters would quit the EU if France held an in/out referendum on continued membership in the Brussels-led bloc. Not surprisingly no other EU country has risked putting membership of the bloc to a public vote since Britain shocked member-states by voting to leave the bloc in 2016, despite polls which showed virtually no possibility of such an outcome.
In an interview with BBC’s Andrew Marr, Emmanuel Macron admitted that he would lose a French referendum on EU membership. Asked about the Brexit vote, the candid president told Marr:
“I am not the one to judge or comment on the decision of your people.” But, he added “my interpretation is that a lot of the losers of globalisation suddenly decided it was no more for them.”
Marr then pushed the French president, regarded by many as the EU’s new leader, on whether Britain’s decision was a one-off. Quoted by Express, the BBC journalist asked: “If France had had the same referendum, it might have had the same result?”
Macron responded: “Yes, probably, probably. Yes. In a similar context. But we have a very different context in France” although he said he would not make it easy: “I wouldn’t take any bet though – I would have fought very hard to win.
“My understanding is that middle classes and working classes and the oldest decided that the recent decades were not in their favor, and the adjustments made by the EU were not in their favour.”
“I think the organization of EU went too far with freedom without cohesion, free markets without rules.”
The French leader hit out at David Cameron for holding a referendum with a simple yes / no response on membership, instead of asking how to improve the situation.
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Predictably, Twitter lit up after the interview was aired, with many questioning if the French leader had just admitted that he “does not listen to his own people” since he has refused to hold a referendum on the EU. For the sake of Europe’s unelected establishment, president Macron and the “European recovery”, one hopes we don’t find out any time soon…