UK

What Does Macron's Win Mean For Brexit? France's New President Walks Out To EU National Anthem

Subtle.

08/05/2017 08:34 BST | Updated 08/05/2017 09:05 BST

France’s new President-elect, Emmanuel Macron, walked out to address supporters in Paris not to his country’s national anthem but to that of the European Union.

The less-than-subtle move was a kick in the face to Brexiteers who were already upset a European country had not chosen a far-right Nationalist leader.

Macron on Brexit

Macron has already made his stance on Brexit perfectly clear, describing it in his election manifesto as a “crime” that will leave the UK facing “servitude”.

Speaking to Channel 4 News in February, he said: “If your government decides to organise a Brexit, I will be pretty tough on it.

“We have to preserve the rest of the European Union and not to convey the message that you can leave without any consequence.” 

He denied he would “punish” Britain but added: “You don’t get the [financial services] passport and you don’t get access to the Single Market when you decide to leave.”

Leave.EU, backed by Nigel Farage and Ukip-donor, Aaron Banks, was particularly upset at the result.

Prompting many to ask what they were actually upset about.

Macron’s victory is a relief for pro-Europeans who began the year facing the prospect of nationalists taking power or becoming a majority in France, Italy and the Netherlands and a new US President vocal in his support for Brexit. 

After triggering Article 50 in March, Theresa May will now spend the next two years negotiating with her European counterparts in order to get, in her oft-repeated words, “the best deal for Britain”.

The election of Macron will undoubtedly make this task more difficult.

In an interview with Bloomberg shortly after announcing his candidacy he said Britain should not be given special treatment.

He said: “I am attached to a strict approach to Brexit: I respect the British vote but the worst thing would be a sort of weak EU vis-a-vis the British.

“I don’t want a tailor-made approach where the British have the best of two worlds.

“That will be too big an incentive for others to leave and kill the European idea, which is based on shared responsibilities.”

POOL New / Reuters
French President elect Emmanuel Macron celebrates on stage during his victory rally near the Louvre museum.

During a visit to the UK in February he went even further when he said outright he would try to get “banks, talents, researchers, academics” to move to France in the wake of Brexit.

Despite overwhelming support for Macron across the continent, the new French leader remains a political novice, untried and untested on European issues.

And even as he celebrates European unity, he has argued that the bloc needs a fundamental retooling, reports the Associated Press.

“It makes it tough to predict how he will act - in France and also in the EU,” said Hendrik Vos, a European policy analyst at Ghent University in Belgium.

Macron campaigned for the European Union at a time when it was fashionable and politically expedient to dump on it. Now he has to deliver on his words.

Key will be his relationship with the German leader. Germany and France have been the twin engine driving the European Union as it grew from six members to 28.

Former world war enemies, they stuck together as much of the continent gelled around their drive for unity. Le Pen saw Germany much more as a competitor and a meddler in French affairs, another reason why her presidency would have spelled doom for the EU.

The relationship unraveled under President Francois Hollande. It was not so much that Hollande was a Socialist and Merkel a Christian Democrat - after all, Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl had a political bromance for the ages. It was because Hollande seemed as weak on the European stage as he was at home.

Macron realises he will need to do better and has set out to make Berlin his first port of call. But like Hollande, he will need to establish himself at home before becoming an effective champion of a closely knit Europe.

“To have a voice of authority in Europe, it is important to be credible and run your own country smoothly,” Vos said. “That is a tough chore for Macron.” 

Macron won a projected 65% of the votes, reports the Press Association

French polling agencies revealed the centrist candidate triumphed over the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who is forecast to have gained a 35% share. 

The National Front leader called Mr Macron to concede defeat and congratulate him on his victory just minutes after the result came in. 

Macron - who at 39 will become France’s youngest president - dashed Le Pen’s nationalist hopes with his pro-European stance and moderate policies. 

In a sombre speech following his victory, the president-elect acknowledged divisions in society had driven people to “vote to the extreme” but said “a new page” of France’s history was opening. 

Theresa May was quick to offer her congratulations to Macron.

In a phone call, the pair “briefly” discussed Brexit and the Prime Minister “reiterated that the UK wants a strong partnership”, Downing Street said.

A Downing Street spokesman said on Sunday: “This evening the Prime Minister spoke to President-elect Macron to warmly congratulate him on his election victory.

“The Prime Minister said that she looked forward to working with the new president on a range of shared issues, with the UK and France’s unique partnership providing a strong foundation for future co-operation.

“The leaders briefly discussed Brexit and the Prime Minister reiterated that the UK wants a strong partnership with a secure and prosperous EU once we leave.

“The Prime Minister and President-elect Macron looked forward to meeting and holding discussions at the upcoming Nato and G7 summits.”

Crowds outside the Louvre in Paris began jubilant celebrations as news of the victory came in.

Former investment banker Macron became economy minister in 2014, but resigned two years later to set up his own movement, En Marche!

He will take on France’s top job without having previously been elected to public office.

Le Pen had hoped to capitalise on the disillusionment of voters in France and ride a populist wave to the country’s highest office.

She campaigned passionately on the need to restore French sovereignty and wanted to pull the country out of the EU and the euro.

President Francois Hollande, under whom Macron served as a minister, said the results showed voters’ support for the European Union, while prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve said it was a rejection of the “deadly project of the extreme right”.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “happy” that the ideas of a “strong and progressive Europe” would be preserved under Macron’s presidency.

US president Donald Trump tweeted: “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France. I look very much forward to working with him.”

Ms Le Pen said that in spite of her loss, the “historic and massive” results had transformed her party into “the leading opposition force against the new president’s plans”.

Hollande is expected to welcome his successor to the Elysee Palace within two weeks.

After a private meeting in which the nuclear launch codes will be handed over, Hollande will depart.

In London, supporters gathered at The Square Pig pub in Holborn jumped for joy as Macron topped the poll.

Earlier, thousands of French voters in the UK cast their ballots in the decisive presidential run-off.

Some two million French people live abroad, with an estimated 350,000 in the UK, the French embassy said.

Of the 250,000 said to be living in London, nearly 100,000 are registered voters.