The Telegraph – Election Bulletin

  Good afternoon.

European leaders have had a variety of democratic upsets to deal with, like Britain’s vote for Brexit and America electing President Trump, but now they have an event they can celebrate: the election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s next President. He is an unabashed Europhile for one, happy bounding onto stage to the tune of the bloc’s anthem – Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – as he is speaking in front of the bloc’s flag.

The next President is also fiercely sceptical of Brexit, warning during the campaign that it would leave Britain in “servitude”. His bellicose language may not bode well for Theresa May ahead of talks, but I argue online, she should prefer to deal with a confident EU side, rather than one flailing around hysterically in a bid to cope with President Le Pen being among them.

Monsieur Macron, France’s youngest leader – at 39 – since Napoleon, has now said that Britain is set for “tough” Brexit negotiations, although his advisers insist he would not set out to “punish” the country for leaving.  One point of tension looks to be the future of the Le Touquet agreement, under which British border officials can carry out border checks in France. The new President wants it renegotiated, amid concern about the “Jungle” camp in Calais, and now Mrs May has indicated that she will “sit down” and discuss it with him. The Prime Minister has weaved upcoming arguments like this into her election pitch, saying today that she needs a “strong mandate” in order to put her in a “strong position” when she faces him.

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t giving the Prime Minister much to worry about, so she is making her European partners her effective Opposition in this election. She dramatically accused them last week of  trying to tarnish her diplomatically ahead talks in order to “ affect the result of the general election”. They are now getting their swagger back after the election of Monsieur Macron, which will allow Mrs May to argue with greater vigour that Britain needs a tough negotiator to face them. “Can you imagine handing the Brexit negotiations to a weak and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn?” Boris Johnson just wrote in an email from Conservative HQ. “It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

 

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