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Frexit fears? Macron warned to learn lessons from UK ‘before it’s too late’

Conrad Duncan
·2 min read
<p>Recent polls have shown Emmanuel Macron behind far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round for France’s presidential election next year</p> (REUTERS)

Recent polls have shown Emmanuel Macron behind far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round for France’s presidential election next year

(REUTERS)

Emmanuel Macron has been warned that France could join the UK in leaving the EU if the French president does not learn the lessons from Brexit before it’s “too late”.

Former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier made the claim on Friday at a conference on Brexit and the future of the EU in Le Touquet, near Boulogne, on France’s north coast.

“We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves. It’s now too late for the UK but not for us,” Mr Barnier said.

“Let us ask ourselves: why this figure of 52 per cent at the referendum? Fifty two per cent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the union.”

He added: “We can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions... citizens who want to leave the EU.”

Mr Barnier noted that Europe was often criticised for its “red tape and complexity” and said there was “social unrest or anger” about immigration among members of the French public.

The former EU negotiator has fueled rumours that he is considering running in next year’s French presidential election after he said he would set up a political faction under the name “Patriot and European” earlier this year.

A participant at a closed-door meeting with centre-right lawmakers in February told Reuters that the faction had been presented as a “working group” within the centre-right Les Republicains party.

Recent opinion polls have put Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, narrowly ahead of Mr Macron in the first round of voting for next year’s election.

Research by Ifop published earlier this month showed Ms Le Pen winning in six out of the 10 scenarios polled, based on a range of different candidates running in 2022.

However, the poll also showed she would be beaten in a second round between her and Mr Macron, by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Ms Le Pen and Mr Macron were the top two candidates in the 2017 presidential election, in which Mr Macron won the second round by 64 per cent to 34 per cent.

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