Wednesday 25 April 2018

French backtrack on First Lady role for Macron's wife

280,000 people have signed a petition against Brigitte Macron being given a formal position as the country's First Lady Photo: Getty
280,000 people have signed a petition against Brigitte Macron being given a formal position as the country's First Lady Photo: Getty

Oliver Gee

Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, will not officially be France's First Lady, according to government officials and reports.

The decision flies in the face of Mr Macron's pre-election promise to make an official position for his wife, a move that turned heads particularly as the government is soon to pass a law preventing MPs from hiring family members as assistants, as part of his own anti-corruption drive.

But after 280,000 people signed a petition over the last two weeks in an attempt to block Mrs Macron from having a salary, it appears the government is back-pedalling.

French government spokesman Christophe Castaner took to Twitter to stress Mrs Macron would not have an official role.

"Brigitte Macron has a role and responsibilities. We are looking to be transparent and to outline the means she has at her disposal," he wrote.

"No modification of the constitution, no new funding, no salary for Brigitte Macron. Stop the hypocrisy!"

Mr Macron (39) had promised on the campaign trail in March that his wife would have a "real status".

"Paid by the Republic, no. Having a role, a real status, a real capacity to act, yes," Mr Macron said at the time.

The presidency has said it will clarify Mrs Macron's role in the coming days, sources told AFP and BFM TV.

The French government plans to make clear exactly how much Mrs Macron will be costing taxpayers.

"The idea is for the French people to know how much this role costs," Aurore Berge, a senior lawmaker from Mr Macron's party, told Europe 1 radio. Mrs Macron currently has a team of two or three aides, two secretaries, and two security guards.

Mr Macron will host other major European leaders this month for talks on migration, the economy and defence - part of a broader diplomatic offensive.

His popularity waning at home, Mr Macron will hold talks with Germany's Angela Merkel, Spain's Mariano Rajoy and Italy's Paolo Gentiloni on August 28.

Mr Macron is also due to meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on August 31. He will also visit Austria, Romania and Bulgaria from August 23-25.

Irish Independent

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