EU fanatic French minister QUITS for pro-UK replacement ahead of Brexit talks

A EURO fanatic French minister who goaded Britain over leaving the European Union has quit and been replaced with a pro-British alternative ahead of crunch Brexit talks.

Emmanuel Macron, right, is being replaced by Michel Sapin, leftAFP

Emmanuel Macron, right, is being replaced by Michel Sapin, left

Controversial economy minister Emmanuel Macron has quit the government in Parisfollowing a series of incendiary remarks, including comparing post-Brexit UK to Guernsey and advocating moving the Calais migrant camp across the Channel.It is thought he will put his hat in the ring to become the new President.

He will be replaced with the moderate Michel Sapin, who has offered an olive branch to Britain over freedom of movement and has warned other EU leaders against trying to punish the UK for Brexit.The news will come as a huge boost to Theresa May as she prepares to meet her Cabinet at the government’s country residence, Chequers, to discuss her strategy in the EU exit negotiations.

Emmanuel Macron, right, is being replaced by Michel Sapin, leftAFP

The move could see a thawing in France’s position on Brexit

Theresa MayPA

The move will come as a boost to Theresa May

Wildly pro-EU and anti-British Macron was seen as both unpredictable and a potential block to amicable Brexit talks with the French, and his removal is another sign of Europe’s thawing attitude to the UK.The bombastic economy minister, who consistently courted controversy during his two-year tenure, is known as a fanatical europhile who won friends in the corridors of power with his fervently pro-Brussels message.

However, in an increasingly eurosceptic country where the far-right is quickly gaining ground, his zealous and unquestioning dedication to the EU project was beginning to look badly out of step with public opinion.

He also frequently caused outrage on this side of the Channel, in particular when he vowed to relocate the Calais migrant camp to Britain and roll out a “red carpet” to entice bankers to leave London for Paris following Brexit.

But whilst he was a thorn in Britain’s side he was loved in Brussels, where eurocrats have said he will leave behind much fonder memories.

One French civil servant told Euractiv: “It is rare for a minister to arrive and to know how the European institutions work, as he did. And he has ideas for the future.”

His replacement Sapin – who is also France’s finance minister – has taken a much more measured tone towards both Britain and the EU in recent years and will be seen as a much more calming influence on the country’s turbulent government.

In June Sapin became the first prominent EU politician to hint the UK could secure concessions from Brussels over free movement, saying there should be “no red lines” over discussions to keep Britain in the single market.

He has also previously clashed with Brussels over its treatment of Portugal and Spain, accusing Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission of planning to “punish for the pleasure of punishing” after the two crisis-stricken countries missed their deficit targets.Macron, meanwhile, has openly stated his intention to run for president and has angered colleagues in Francois Hollande’s socialist government by deliberately wooing right-wing voters.

In particular the 38-year-old former investment banker caused fury by repeatedly criticising left-wing totems like France’s 35-hour work week and creating his own party in April, casting it as leaning neither left nor right.

Announcing his resignation, he said: “I am making this decision in order to be free to speak and to take responsibility for offering something new, which will build new hope.”Mrs May will meet with her Cabinet ministers at Chequers this week to thrash out how Britain will manage its EU exit, including the key issue of how to get both France and Germany on side.

The prime minister has said she will not trigger Article 50 until the start of next year at the earliest, with rifts growing between her three Brexiteers – Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox – over what the priorities of Brexit should be.

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