EU’s Brexit Negotiator Barnier Fears Le Pen Victory in 2022

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier gives a press conference on negotiations with UK on on

The EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has warned that French populist Marine Le Pen may triumph in next year’s French presidential elections if mainstream politicians do not listen to anger in society.

Barnier, who is looking to publish a new book in May, has criticised current French president Emmanuel Macron in private, claiming that he “missed the mark” and blaming him for being too solitary and too arrogant while in office.

According to a report from the magazine Paris Match, Barnier is also concerned about a possible victory for the leader of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, in next year’s French presidential elections.

“For four years I managed something improbable that happened. Yes, the election of Marine Le Pen is possible in France if we don’t listen to social anger,” Barnier warned, adding that he was working with the centre-right Les Republicains ahead of next year’s election.

Le Pen formerly backed ‘Frexit’ and is still strongly eurosceptic, although she has somewhat tempered her views in recent years, — in public, at least — in order to attract more moderate voters.

The magazine notes that Barnier could look toward the presidency himself but that no polls have so far been conducted for next year’s elections that have included him as a potential candidate.

Polls that have been taken have shown favourable potential results for Marine Le Pen, with a poll from earlier this month showing the populist leader ahead of nearly all of the proposed left-wing candidates but struggling more against the proposed centre-right candidate, Xavier Bertrand.

In recent days several other prominent political figures have warned of a potential Le Pen victory, including former government minister Arnaud Montebourg, who served, like Macron, under former the previous president, socialist Francois Hollande.

Montebourg’s criticisms of President Macron echo that of Barnier, as he stated that Macron is “hated because he is arrogant.”

A study by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation laid out the possible conditions for a Le Pen win, noting that if many voters from the left and the right simply abstain from supporting either Le Pen or Macron in the second round of voting it could give Le Pen the edge.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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