French Europe minister Clement Beaune has been a raging and continued critic of Brexit and spent months lashing out at the UK over its stance on granting fishing licences to his country’s fishermen. But now he has turned his attentions to right-wing rival Marine Le Pen, who will once again challenge Mr Macron for the presidency after coming through the opening round of French election voting. He said during an interview with French broadcaster Public Senat: “If she says: my (EU) allies, they don’t exist.
“It will be Victor Orban. I’ll decide on my own. That’s where I say there’s a hidden Frexit.
“Because deciding on your own without renegotiation and freeing yourself from the common rules is like when you live in a condominium, in a commune, in a democracy, and you leave the community without saying so.
“That’s all. I have no problem with the fact that she wants Frexit, but she should say so.”
During her French election campaign in 2017, which saw her beaten by Mr Macron, Ms Le Pen talked up France leaving the eurozone, the Schengen common travel area and holding a referendum on EU membership.
But this time around she has stepped back from that stance in a hammer blow to Frexit campaigners hoping to take France out of the EU.
Ms Le Pen now wants to restore border checks and a “European Alliance of Nations” that respect nations’ freedom and sovereignty.
This would see the laws of EU member states take precedence over those from the EU but to achieve that, she would have to find a way of renegotiating European treaties.
Mr Beaune raged: “Either she respects the rules, or she renegotiates, but this is a very significant inflexion.
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“She says that she wants an alliance of nation states, but she is going to find herself in a corner and she is going to try to come up with an alliance with her friends.”
He argued French voters wouldn’t allow a “Frexit” to happen, so Ms Le Pen would secretly cosy France up countries like Poland and Hungary – both of whom have had their issues with Brussels over recent months.
Mr Macron said: “It would be a strange club.
“I don’t think it is a club that would be good for France. I don’t think it would be good for Europe.”
He also claimed: “The EU has changed the life of this country.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.