Michel Barnier makes the case for Frexit

The European Commission’s former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned Emmanuel Macron and the French establishment that the nation could be next to follow Britain out of the door.

Speaking at a conference in Le Touquet, Mr Barnier said France must learn the many lessons which led the British people to vote to leave the bloc, or face its very own Frexit.

“We could draw some lessons from Brexit for ourselves,” he told the conference near Boulogne. “It’s now too late for the UK but not for us.

“Let us ask ourselves: why this figure of 52 per cent at the referendum? 52 per cent of citizens voted against Brussels, against the EU, so much so that they actually ended up leaving the union.”

In his address, he perhaps inadvertently made a rather compelling case for France to leave the bloc, indicating there were plenty across the nation that would vote to do so.

“We can find, not just in the UK, but here in France, in the northern and eastern regions… citizens who want to leave the EU,” admitted Barnier.

“They say the EU did not respond to legitimate desires of citizens, there is social unrest or anger, one might say, because there’s no protection of external borders, some people say, immigration flows are impacting us… and Europe is also often criticised for its red tape and complexity.”

The French right is on the rise with Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen polling very well against Emmanuel Macron in a presidential run-off next April.

Left-wing politicians including the socialist Arnaud Montebourg who occupied the office of finance minister before Emmanuel Macron did in the government of François Hollande, have predicted nationalist firebrand Le Pen will win the 2022 French presidential election.

Although toning down her case for Frexit in recent years, Le Pen has still remained highly critical of Brussels, accusing the Commission of a “catastrophic” failure on vaccines and demanding a new approach “at the national level”.

And recent surveys have seen Le Pen take a small but significant lead over the incumbent French president, an election victory that could result in an irreversible shift in France’s relationship with Brussels.