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Emmanuel Macron: We Don’t Need Your Lectures About Patriotism, Says Ross Clark

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Even if there were genuine reasons his helicopter couldn’t take off, alternative travel plans should have been in place.

But the real villain of the weekend’s commemoration of the Armistice was not the President of the United States – it was France’s own President, Emmanuel Macron.

Why his speech was hailed by some as great piece of statesmanship I don’t understand.

Notionally, of course, Macron was making a call for peace.

Few would disagree with some of the platitudes he included in his 20 minutes at the podium, calling for the world to “prioritise peace over everything”.

It was the remarks which he crafted around the platitudes which were objectionable.

Central to his speech was a wrong-headed assertion that only the EU – with France and Macron himself in the driving seat – could be trusted with maintaining peace in Europe.

In Europe, he claimed, the spirit of international cooperation “is represented by the ties of friendship between Germany and France, and the desire to build a bedrock of common goals. This hope is called the European Union, a union that has freed us of our civil wars”.

There was no mention of Britain, nor of any of the EU’s other 25 states.

It is how France has seen the EU all along, since the foundation of its predecessor organisation, the European Economic Community, in 1957: as a duopoly of French and German power, with all other member states subservient to them.

It is that attitude which has undermined British engagement in the EU for the past 45 years and led ultimately to our decision to leave.

Macron couldn’t help himself, referencing Brexit in a not-too-subtle way, claiming that the hope for peace risked being ruined by a “fascination for withdrawal, violence or domination”.

Yes, in Macron’s mind, withdrawing from the EU is the moral equivalent to rattling sabres if not actually invading foreign countries.

Yet as Theresa May and everyone backing Brexit has made clear all along, leaving the EU is not the same as leaving Europe.

The UK government wants co-operation in all areas – just not through the antidemocratic political construct that is the EU.

Macron has a fantasy that France is the moral leader of Europe.

Speaking of the Great War he said: “This vision of France as a generous nation, of France as a project, of France as the bearer of universal values was displayed during these dark hours, as the very opposite of a selfish nation that only looks after its own interest.”

Which other leader of a Western democracy, granted the honour of addressing the world on Armistice Day, would use the occasion to chirp about his own country’s virtues?

It might be the sort of thing Trump could do, but Macron has shown that he is really not much different.

And what utter hypocrisy it was of Macron to claim that France is somehow immune from promoting its own self-interest above all else.

This is a president who has been doing all he can to frustrate a free trade deal between the UK and the EU in the hope of poaching financial business from London to Paris.

All across Europe, on both sides of the Channel, businesses have been appealing to the EU and to their own governments to get on and do a trade deal with Britain for the benefit of all.

Instead, Macron has become the single biggest obstacle to a deal among national leaders.

He has shown that all he is really interested in is opportunities for the French financial sector – in which he made his own money.

Macron told us that “patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism”.

It is difficult to know what he meant by this other than taking a pop at Donald Trump, who described himself as a nationalist only a few weeks ago.

Of course, all countries will stand up for their own national interest.

The difference is that when France does this it is good “patriotism” but when America does the same it is evil “nationalism”.

If Trump looked a bit glum through Macron’s speech and declined to attend his “peace summit” which followed, it is hardly any wonder.

 



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