French PM coughs up for Champions League trip

France's prime minister has written a cheque for €2,500 ($2,800) to settle a trip to the Champions League final in Berlin with his two sons that landed him in hot water.

French PM coughs up for Champions League trip
French PM Manuel Valls has admitted it was mistake to take his kids on the government plane. Photo: AFP
Manuel Valls, a fan of his native Barcelona, faced a torrent of criticism for his visit to the game in the Olympic Stadium which did not appear on his official agenda.
He said he was invited by European football boss Michel Platini to discuss next year’s Euro-2016 championships in France, but this did not calm the storm and Valls finally vowed to refund the cost of the trip for his two children.
His decision to take a Falcon jet to the game went down badly in a country where one in 10 is unemployed, and he later admitted it was a “blunder.”
“I gave the impression to the French people that I had not devoted myself to them. I am sorry,” said the contrite premier.
The payment from his personal chequebook will take a complicated route.
Valls made the cheque out to the public treasury but it will eventually return to… the prime minister’s office, whereupon it will be used to pay the air force for use of the Falcon.
The prime minister will at least have been happy with the result: his beloved Barca beat Italian giants Juventus 3-1.

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Former PM Valls quits Socialists to join Macron’s army of MPs in parliament

Former French PM Manuel Valls announced on Tuesday that he was quitting the Socialist Party and instead would sit among the MPs of President Emmanuel Macron's Republique en Marche party in the French parliament.

Former PM Valls quits Socialists to join Macron's army of MPs in parliament
Photo: AFP

Valls, who was PM under former President François Hollande told French radio on Tuesday morning that he was walking away from the Socialist party.

“Part of my political life is coming to an end. I am leaving the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Party is leaving me,” the 54-year-old told RTL radio.

Valls, who was prime minister under Socialist president Francois Hollande from 2014 to 2016, was rejected by Socialist voters in the party's primary to choose a candidate for this year's presidential election.

The party chose hard-left candidate Benoit Hamon instead and he failed to reach the run-off of the presidential election in May as France's two main parties fell at the first hurdle for the first time since 1958.

Earlier this month Valls was re-elected as an MP in the department of Essonne by a tiny majority.

Shortly after his announcement the majority Republique en Marche (REM) party announced that MPs had voted to allow Valls to sit among their ranks in the new parliament, which sits for the first time on Tuesday.

Macron's party won a huge majority in June's parliamentary elections, while the Socialist party only picked up 30 seats. 

However Valls will not officially be joining the REM party, but he will benefit from certain logistical advantages of being part of the majority such as having access to speaking time in parliament.

The former PM had suffered humiliation last month when he announced he wanted to join Macron's party, only to be told to join the back of the queue like everyone else.

At the time the secretary general of Macron's La République en Marche (Republic on the Move), Richard Ferrand said Valls “did not meet the criteria” of Macron's desire to renew French politics.

In the end a deal was reached and REM decided not to put up a candidate to stand against Valls in his constituency.

The pugnacious, Spanish-born Valls was Macron's boss when the now-president was economy minister and a fierce rivalry developed between them.


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