Barnier vows immigration crackdown in bid for French presidency

The EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has declared his candidacy for the French presidency in next year’s key elections, warning that France “is doing badly and we need a change-over.”

He is running to be the candidate for the centre-right Republican party, and his platform will include plans to roll back mass immigration with a five year ban on all non-EU immigration, as well as demands to reform the EU’s bungling bureaucracy.

It follows a May call from Barnier for Schengen free movement to also be renegotiated with the dysfunctional political bloc.

He also insisted that he wants to “be the president of a France that is reconciled, to respect the French and have France respected” – a far cry from the cosmopolitanism and globalism of incumbent Emmanuel Macron, who once famously declared that “there is no French culture. There is no such thing as French culture, there is some culture in France and it is diverse.”

Barnier’s opposition to mass immigration and criticisms of the corrupt and inefficient European Union will shock many, with Barnier becoming a totemic figure of the EU establishment in recent years as he spearheaded Brexit talks on behalf of Brussels. Perhaps some good old fashioned Brexit common sense rubbed off on him…

But despite his tough line, which he hopes will propel him to the front of the Republican pack, Barnier faces an uphill struggle to take the coveted office.

Virtually all opinion polls conducted in recent years show the final head-to-head second round showdown coming down to incumbent Emmanuel Macron and nationalist firebrand Marine Le Pen – a rematch from 2017, where Macron won nearly two thirds of the vote, but with surveys now showing the race significantly tighter.

One survey from earlier this year showed Le Pen just two points away from securing the French presidency on 48% – way up on her 33% performance four years ago.

Her presidential hopes could be boosted by widespread dissatisfaction with Macron’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as his liberal attitude to inward migration from Afghanistan in recent days – with five known terror threats being airlifted into France earlier this week.

One man has already been convicted for shaking off his obligations as a subject of state surveillance, telling a judge that he’d only left the designated zone he was permitted to move in because somebody had offered to buy him drugs to soothe a headache.