France: Chief EU Brexit Negotiator Barnier Announces Presidential Bid on Anti-Mass Migration Platform

Europe’s former chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, last Friday announced his intentions to run as a conservative candidate in France’s presidential elections next year, pledging to take a firmer stance against migration than centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

“My country is not doing well. It is too divided and fractured — between urban and rural areas, between immigrants and non-immigrants, between the young and the less young” Barnier, who will represent the center-right Les Républicans (LR) in France’s 2022 presidential elections, told the Financial Times.

“There’s lots of tension and lots of violence between people, whether it’s in sports stadiums or on the internet,” he added.

Back in February, Barnier launched a political faction under the name “Patriot and European”, leading many to believe that he’d be running in next year’s highly anticipated election. 

In a separate interview with the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, cited his long career in politics and said that his experience as the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator had prepared to assume the reins of the French political machine.  

“Since the end of my Brexit mission, I have listened a lot, talked a lot, and worked to build a team and a project,” Barnier said, adding: “The world around us is dangerous, unstable, and fragile. Our country is doing badly and we need a change-over.”

In May, Barnier has called for a three to five-year moratorium on migration into France and for stricter controls at the European Union’s external borders, asserting that immigration is an existential threat to French and European society. 

“There is a risk of an explosion, particularly on the topic of immigration,” he said. “We need to introduce a moratorium on immigration. We need to take time to evaluate, check, and if necessary, change our immigration policies.”

Some European politicians, like Brexiteer Nigel Farage, have doubted Barnier’s sincerity, accusing him of using the public’s widespread distaste for mass migration for political gain.

“My agenda looks moderate compared to the new Barnier. What a dreadful bunch of careerists they all are,” Farage said.

According to a survey carried out days ago by IPSOS, Barnier is polling at around 11 percent, behind President Macron and National Rally’s Marine Le Pen, both of whom are polling at 24.5 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively.