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Macron Takes French Presidential Campaign to London

Emmanuel Macron outside 10 Downing Street, London, Feb. 21Emmanuel Macron outside 10 Downing Street, London, Feb. 21

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged expats in London to bring their talents home to France, following a meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.

Addressing more than 2,000 French citizens and others at the Methodist Central Hall opposite the Houses of Parliament, Macron said he wanted to convince them to return and “innovate, seek, teach”, France24 reported.

Britain is home to an estimated 300,000-plus French citizens, largely based in the capital.

The ex-investment banker also took the opportunity to joke about rival Francois Fillon, as a new poll showed Macron losing ground ahead of April’s first round of the presidential election despite Fillon being mired in scandal over claims he gave his wife a lucrative fake parliamentary job.

In the packed hall, where people waved French and EU flags, Macron drew the biggest cheers when he spoke in favor of the European project.

He advocated a “special relationship” between the EU and France on the one hand and Britain on the other. The term is more commonly used in Britain to describe ties with the United States.

“Nothing will be the same (after Brexit), but I think we can defend mutual interests over the long term,” he said, citing close cooperation between London and Paris on defense and security.

Macron visited May at her Downing Street office and later met Britain’s Finance Minister Philip Hammond, a public relations coup for the young centrist at a time when his campaign appears to be losing momentum.

Opinion polls suggest Le Pen would win the first round of France’s presidential election on April 23, but would lose in the runoff vote on May 7.

Macron had been the favorite to take her on, but a new Elabe survey published on Tuesday suggests conservative Fillon has overtaken him again.

 

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