Mr Emmanuel Macron is the new President of France. In his victory speech he vowed to unite a divided and fractured France, saying “the world is watching and waiting for us to defend the spirit of the enlightenment threatened in so many places”. He now faces challenges of trying to win a parliamentary majority for his political movement, because without a majority he will not be able to carry out his manifesto promises. World leaders including Trump, Teresa May and Justin Trudeau have congratulated Macron.
Marine Le Pen made our Brexit her model. The French equivalent was going to be Frexit. With Macron’s defeat of Le Pen, Great Britain is about to leave the world’s largest single market of which it is unlikely to find an equivalent. Britain is still facing a 60 billion Euro bill and the Pound was devalued by 20% against the Dollar. Companies are suspending their investments and so this coalition between the French Presidential elections and our General Elections offers us an opportunity to reflect. Le Pen’s version of authoritarian populism, xenophobic nationalism, is part of a wider worldwide trend and the sentiments among voters both in France and the UK might be that “Europe trumps party” and that the drift towards nationalist isolation represents a threat to British interests.
The General election in the UK will create a new mandate for a new parliament and it is worthwhile remembering the words of Churchill who said in 1947 “Mutual aid in the economic field and joint military defence must inevitably be accompanied step by step with parallel policy of closer political unity”. It is said with truth that this involves some sacrifice or merger of national sovereignty, but it is also possible and no less agreeable to regard it as a gradual assumption by all the nations concerned of that larger sovereignty which can alone protect their diverse the distinctive custom and characteristics.
It is important to learn that Le Pen and her movement is not going away anytime soon and will always retain the potential to destroy Europe. Her main target has always been the next election in 2022, and the Europe wide problems which are driving people to support parties like UKIP or National Front will persist beyond this election. By the same token even if Theresa May gets more than 50% of the votes in the general election, the remain campaign must not stop and will continue to campaign against Brexit.