The EU’s former chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, announced Thursday he plans to stand as a right-wing candidate against centrist President Emmanuel Macron in next year’s presidential elections, pinpointing limits on immigration as a key policy pledge, Euractiv.com reports.
“In these grave times, I have taken the decision and have the determination to stand … and be the president of a France that is reconciled, to respect the French people and have France respected,” Barnier told the evening news show of TF1 television in a live interview.
Barnier cited his long experience in politics. He said during the years-long process he had to work “with heads of state and government to preserve the unity of all the European countries.”
He spoke of needing to “restore the authority of the state” as well as “limit and have control over immigration,” reaffirming a proposal for a moratorium on arrivals. He also told the Le Figaro daily that while France should offer asylum to Afghans who had helped French forces “we cannot welcome everyone.”
In February, Barnier set up a political faction under the “Patriot and European” name, triggering rumours of a bid in next year’s election.
Barnier is a member of the right-wing The Republicans (LR) and is the most prominent of four candidates from the party to have declared their intention to stand. The party may organise a primary later this year if no obvious frontrunner emerges.