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'France is changing': Macron's plea to British talent and London's French expats

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'France is changing': Macron's plea to British talent and London's French expats
Photo: AFP
17:04 CET+01:00
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he wanted London bankers and academics to move to France after Brexit, following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"I want banks, talents, academics, researchers and so on," Macron said after hastily-arranged talks with May at Downing Street ahead of a campaign speech in London to drum up support among the city's large community of French expat voters.

"It will be part of my programme to be attractive for these kinds of people," the former economy minister and ex-investment banker said.

He added he wanted to tell expats living in Britain that "France is changing".

"In the coming years, they'll have a lot of opportunities to come back to France and succeed in France."

Having his request to meet May granted it was seen as somewhat of a coup and an unusual move on the part of the British PM, especially given Macron is not from either of the two main stream parties in France.

Perhaps the British PM has witnessed Macron’s surge in recent months and realizes he may be the man who leads France’s stance towards Brexit.

Downing Street had already confirmed there would be no meeting with the head of the National Front Marine Le Pen, while it is not clear if centre-right candidate François Fillon would be calling her up.

"There's a long-standing policy that we don't engage with the Front National," said a Downing Street spokesman.

But a new opinion poll on Tuesday suggested Macron would now lose in the first round of the presidential election to both Fillon and Le Pen. It appears Macron's recent controversial comments about France's colonisation have harmed his standing.

Before the meeting Macron revealed little of his talks with May, other than to suggest they would chat over the obvious.

“Our exchanges would be rich, I am sure,” he told journalists before the meeting. “In any case I intend to address all the subjects of common interest, because there are many subjects which concern France and Great Britain, whether it’s Brexit or our bilateral treaties.”

Talking of Brexit, Macron said: “We all have a lot of responsibilities because it is the future of Europe at stake and also the future of the Franco-British relationship, which is structured not just on economic and financial subjects but also defense, internal security and immigration.”

The pro-EU Macron has suggested in the past that the EU should take a tough line during Brexit talks with Britain saying that Britain’s financial firms should only retain “passporting” rights to do business in Europe after Brexit if London keeps contributing to the European Union budget.

Macron has also stated he would give no ground on free movement of EU workers, telling The Guardian newspaper any concessions that allowed the UK to exclude some EU citizens would lead to the disintegration of Europe.

After meeting May, Macron also met Britain’s Finance Minister Philip Hammond who has said in the past that EU countries would be making a "huge mistake" if they tried to break up London's dominance as a global financial center after Brexit.

Britain is home to some 300,000 French expats and Macron was due to speak to an audience of several thousand of them in London on Tuesday evening in which he will hope to convince as many as possible to vote for him.

 
Why Emmanuel Macron is the darling of foreigners in France
 
 
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