French presidential candidate Michel Barnier, the former EU chief negotiator for Brexit, has said that France has lost control of immigration and that there is a sense of impunity in the country.
The French politician, who is running for the fifth position as president of the center-right Republican (LP) party in the 2022 elections, lamented that France had “fallen sharply” in an interview with British news agency Reuters on Tuesday night. He believed that the leadership style of President Emmanuel Macron was too arrogant and had a single goal in mind, thereby inciting divisions.
“Immigration has slipped out of our hands,” the politician said. “It simply came to our notice then. There is a sense of punishment and insecurity across the country.
According to Barnier, immigration should be banned until European and French – currently uncertain – immigration rules are in place. Politicians want to patrol some residences that are out of police control and call for a referendum to reintroduce compulsory military service.
Moderate center-right politicians, Marin Le Pen and Eric Zemmour, have rejected the assumption that he wants to recapture conservative voters from the far-right camp.
“I deal with the problems of the country,” he said.
Macron’s government has denied allegations that it has lost control over the number of foreigners coming to France. However, according to the official statistics office INSEE, the number of immigrants has been growing significantly since the early 2000s.
According to INSEE official figures, 272,000 immigrants arrived in France in 2020, 259,000 in 2016, the last year of the Socialist Franois Hollande presidency and 211,000 in 2010 under Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.
Xavier Bertrand, chairman of the Hauts-de-France Regional Council, and Valérie Pécresse, chairman of the Ile-de-France Regional Council, topped the popular list of Republicans, but Reuters reports that Michel Barnier may also have a chance.
The party’s presidential candidate has said he will support anyone who wins the election ahead of next week’s election. The number of registered voters has doubled in recent weeks to close to 150,000. (MTI, Reuters)