From Macron to May, Europe’s politics broken

From Macron to May, Europe’s politics broken, by Greg Sheridan.

Almost any road to Brexit would be manageable provided the British system had time to prepare. May’s desperate manoeuvres to hang on to her job, combined with her adamant refusal to make a decision when there is any excuse for delay, mean Britain has no chance to prepare for anything.

She is contriving the worst combination of circumstances for her nation imaginable. …

Macron’s ­humiliation … is just as comprehensive and equally as startling. Though he won the presidency in May last year with waves of ­celebrity-like goodwill from the public, he now has an approval ­rating with his people way below that which Donald Trump enjoys in the US.

Macron was cast not only as the reformer of France but also the new hero of Europe. A passionate advocate of action on climate change, he also wanted deeper ­political integration for ­Europe, a European army, a new vision of a Brussels-centric future for his troubled continent, a new model of government for the world. The French people couldn’t care less.

For four weeks now not only Paris but cities around France have burned as the “yellow-vests” movement has protested against all Macron’s reforms. They want lower petrol prices much more than they want ­climate change activism. The yellow vests the protesters wear symbolise their commitment to their cars. And the yellow-vest movement, despite spasmodic violence and vandalism, is supported by a staggering 75 per cent of the population.

Macron, who had conducted himself with the ­hauteur of a Hollywood-style hero of the elites, could not make the grand climate summit in ­Poland. Instead, he had to go home and surrender. Political action now in France doesn’t occur in the National ­Assembly or the ballot box — it happens in ­violent encounters on the streets.

Macron’s surrender to the streets was abject. And comprehensive. First, he promised to postpone the fuel tax increases. Then, quickly, he promised to scrap them ­altogether. … Macron … will introduce an increase in the minimum wage, remove ­income tax from overtime, introduce untaxed bonuses and ­increase welfare benefits. Why should public spending in France stop at a paltry 57 per cent of GDP?

hat-tip Stephen Neil