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DAVID CAMERON

Hollande jabs Brits over ‘red carpet’ welcome

French president François Hollande has thanked the British for giving French athletes a red carpet welcome, in a thinly-veiled reference to a jibe from British Prime Minister David Cameron last month.

Asked about France’s top performance, Hollande said he thanked the British for giving French athletes a "red carpet" welcome to win medals.

"We’ll put the French medals in the European pot, so that the British will enjoy being European," he added, although he hastily admitted that the games were not over yet.

Hollande appeared to be responding indirectly to comments by David Cameron in June in which he said that he would "roll out the red carpet" to French firms that moved to Britain Hollande's Socialist government's tax rises.  

In other comments on Monday, the President praised the London's hosting of the games. The British capital beat Paris for the chance to be host in a closely fought contest:

"I would like to congratulate David Cameron and his government for what they have achieved," he said.

On Tuesday morning, France ranked third in the overall medals count, with three golds. The UK team trailed in 20th position.

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FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

Here’s the latest in France’s presidential race

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was "impossible" that France could contemplate going its own way.

Here's the latest in France's presidential race
French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in Reunion. Photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

Here are three things that happened in the campaign on Saturday:

Let them throw eggs

Conservative candidate Francois Fillon, under pressure over allegations of fake parliamentary jobs for the family which have hit his poll ratings, received a chaotic reception on a trip to the southern Basque region where some protesters pelted him with eggs.

Fillon, who has accused Hollande of helping foment a smear campaign against him amid claims his wife was on the public payroll but did little for her salary, ran the gauntlet in the small town of Cambo-les-Bains.

Locals demanding an amnesty for radical Basque nationalists banged pots and pans, hurled abuse and objects.

“The more they demonstrate the more the French will back me,” Fillon insisted before meeting with local officials.

Warning on Europe

President Francois Hollande warned would-be successors they should cleave closely to Europe as it was “impossible” that France could contemplate going its own way.

In a barb aimed at far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, Hollande said: “So some want to quit Europe? Well let them show the French people they would be better off alone fighting terrorism without the indispensable European coordination…

“Let them show that without the single currency and (single) market there would be more jobs, activity and better purchasing power,” Hollande said in Rome where he attended the ceremonies marking the EU's 60th anniversary.

Le Pen, favoured in opiniion polls to reach the second-round run-off vote in May, wants France to dump the euro, but Hollande said that would lead to devaluation and loss of purchasing power as he warned against nationalist populism.

'Not Father Christmas'

French centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron, seen in polls as beating Marine Le Pen in the May 7 run-off, was in Reunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, where alongside discussing local issues, he told voters he was “not Father Christmas.”

“I don't have the solution to all problems and I am not Father Christmas,” the 39-year-old former economy minister and banker admitted, saying he had not come to make “promises.”

He indicated he would focus on education as a priority on an island where around one in five youths are illiterate.