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Critics of UK promoted by Macron in reshuffle


French president Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/Reuters

French president Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/Reuters

French president Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/Reuters

Emmanuel Macron’s new foreign minister is a left-leaning career diplomat who has blamed Britain for post-Brexit tensions and the Channel migrant crisis.

Catherine Colonna (66), who was until yesterday France’s ambassador to the UK, was appointed as part of a re-shuffle intended to create fresh momentum for the newly re-elected French president ahead of parliamentary elections next month.

Despite previous frictions and vocal criticisms of Westminster, in her final tweet as ambassador in London yesterday, Ms Colonna said: “I wanted to thank everyone who understood we are friends of this country and will keep working for a better future.”

She will be joined in her role by Clement Beaune, an outspoken critic of the UK, who has been promoted from secretary of state to Europe minister. Sebastien Lecornu, minister for overseas territories, has been promoted to the defence ministry.

The new appointees will report to Elisabeth Borne (61), a discreet, left-leaning career bureaucrat who Mr Macron on Monday picked as his new prime minister.

Experts said the nominations suggested Mr Macron was looking to keep tight control over foreign and defence policy at a time of war in Ukraine.

Francois Heisbourg, who has advised Mr Macron on defence matters, tweeted that the appointments meant “Macron remains in full Jupiterian control on foreign policy. Ditto for armed forces”.

Pap Ndiaye, a left-wing academic and expert on race relations, was chosen as education minister in the most surprising nomination.

Ms Colonna is the second woman to take the helm of France’s foreign ministry after a short failed stint by Michele Alliot-Marie in 2010.

She has been a vocal critic of Britain’s stance on the EU since Brexit.

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In December, Ms Colonna told the French senate: “Following Brexit, the UK government had the choice between two possible attitudes: try to moderate the impact of Brexit and get closer to its European neighbours or continue to play an aggressive policy by identifying Europeans as the main source of difficulties.”

The UK chose “the latter course”, Ms Colonna said.

Speaking about the Northern Ireland protocol, she said: “We must fight the vision that Northern Ireland is in a totally disorderly situation, as the British government is trying to convey.

“This strategy is actually aimed at renegotiating the Northern Ireland Protocol or the triggering of Article 16.

“Today, Franco-British relations are deeply affected, less by Brexit than by the way the British government is implementing it.”

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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