In one of the most dirty, fractious and unpredictable races in the history of the Fifth Republic, the French electorate chose the 29-year-old Emmanuel Macron to be their next President. The numbers: Le Pen – 33.9%, Macron – 66.1%. A decisive victory for Macron, but a France still divided, with almost 10% of the population voting blank as a way to voice disapproval of both candidates.
Marine Le Pen is a firebrand, self-proclaimed nationalist who, in a similar fashion to Donald Trump, carried a France First message. And like Mr Trump, has been accused of stoking up racist sentiment.
As the leader of the Eurosceptic National Front, a party founded by her father, Le Pen openly supports Britain’s exit from the European Union. “Thank you for showing us the way out from this huge prison which is the EU for the people,” she said when interviewed by Nigel Farage.
President Le Pen, therefore, would’ve been the best thing to happen to Britain at this crucial time, though Downing Street never admitted it. She would’ve broken the Franco-German axis and paved the way for a disintegrated European negotiating position, allowing Britain to weave through and expose each state’s individual weaknesses – particularly the Eastern states – to force concessions.
And by siding with Anglo-friendly countries such as Spain, which benefits a great deal from British tourism, Le Pen could’ve pressure the Germans into striking an amicable divorce deal with Britain, or as Theresa May would’ve probably called it, a good deal for Britain, with treats in the form of special Single Market exemptions for the City of London and key industries.
But that Brexiteer’s dream is now over. It was Macron, not Le Pen, who the French chose to lead their Fifth Republic for the next five years. And with that, last night, Downing Street lost all hope of striking an amicable deal with Europe.
Emmanuel Macron, nicknamed the French Tony Blair, is the epitome of Europhilism and an arch enemy of nationalists, representing everything the EU was set up to achieve. The pro-business, pro-competiton, pro-multicultarlism, globalist Davos boy is a product of the Union, and he knows it. During the campaign, he proudly waved the Union flag at his rally, saying it was “an honour” to do so.
While it has pleased the Liberal world – attracting support from the likes of Obama and Clinton, for Britain, Macron’s presidency will make things a tad trickier. His Eurocentric politics will diminish the political risk looming over the EU, and the competitive economic policies he’s promoted would increase confidence in the Euro, something we’ve had a taste of over the past week. Once it became clear that Macron had topped the poll in the first round, the Euro jumped to its highest level since mid-November and ever since, it has been gaining ground against the dollar. A Macron presidency ultimately means a stronger, more stable EU, against the interests of Downing Street.
With an evermore unified and emboldened force sitting at the other side of the negotiating table, British negotiators will find it harder to expose tensions between nation states, and the Brexit-sympathetic Eastern European countries will think twice before defying the official EU position. And if they dare to do so, their demands for a peaceful deal with Britain would be overshadowed by the determination of France and Germany to maintain the Union at all costs.
President Macron and Chancellor Merkel will opt for a ‘politics before economics’ deal that hurts both Britain and the EU economically, but more importantly to them, will scare other countries from trying to do the same. Macron himself described Brexit as a “crime” in his election manifesto.
Facing the prospect an increasingly unified and Europhilic leadership and a stronger European economy, Theresa May and David Davis are almost as big a losers as Marine Le Pen.