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What the papers said 15 November 2018

rfi English, Nov 15

Here’s what the French papers had to say about Theresa May and the chaos that ensued after her Brexit announcement Wednesday night; and Macron holds the line against the ‘yellow jacket’ brigade.

On Wednesday, having met each member of her cabinet separately to explain the technicalities of thumb screws, she emerged smilingly triumphant to tell her island nation and the world that the deal she has forced Europe to accept it will allow the British people to take back control of their money, their laws and their borders, and put an end to the dastardly free circulation of people.

"It will," she said, "protect jobs, security and national unity."

In Brussels the chief European negotiator Michel Barnier, clearly dismayed at the prospect of having to read all 585 pages of the English divorce pact, acknowledged that an important step had been taken towards a successful conclusion of the negotiations.

Theresa May now has the public support of a majority of her ministers but still faces revolting individuals like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and others in her Conservative Party who feel that too much is being conceded to Europe.

Already her Northern Irish allies of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have indicated that they are less than delighted with the terms of the deal on the Irish border and have threatened to withdraw their support for the government. The 10 DUP seats are vital to May's parliamentary majority. There will be a vote in the House of Commons in December.

The Europhobic Jacob Rees-Mogg has sent a letter to every Conservative MP urging them to vote against a deal that he says gives Europe 45 billion euros with nothing in return.

The tabloids, at least, are delighted: the Daily Express welcomes the package as "The best deal for Great Britain," with the Daily Mail saying "A deal at last! Let's give it a chance."

France's Iron Man promises resolution in the face of revolt

President Emmanuel Macron is on the front page of right-wing Le Figaro, denouncing what he calls "the accumulation of anger" directed at his various reform projects. He says he's determined to hold the line, despite public incomprehension and annoyance.

Speaking on national TV last night, Macron said he had learned from the errors of his recent predecessors, all of whom had attempted reforms only to yield when the political and public pressure became too great.

At crucial moments, Jacqeus Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande all swerved to avoid head-on collisions with the electorate.

Macron now faces the rebellion of the so-called "yellow jackets", those who are protesting against recently announced increases in the prices of petrol and diesel. He says he will not give in.

France is collapsing, according to the president, because for decades politicians have promised reform only to retreat when instituting their promises proved unpopular. That is not the Macron style. He's prepared to listen to public anger, concedes the right of those who threaten blockages and fuel shortages to protest, will negotiate on details, but he's not for turning on the broader issue of an additional tax on fossil fuels to finance ecologically worthwhile projects.

Macron told last night's audience that current public anger is being used by opposition politicians for their own ends. Some public figures are now speaking against positions that they previously supported. They are happy to profit from the climate of anger but that's not going to forge a new France. Voters are being lied to and manipulated, according to the president.

Macron admits to only one disappointment, that of having failed to reconcile the French people with those who rule them. Since Louis XVI lost his head in the effort, it has not been the easiest job in the world.

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