Michel Barnier launches political group, prompting speculation of 2022 French presidential bid

Michel Barnier, the incoming chief Brexit negotiator for the European Commission. Photographer: Marl

Michel Barnier has launched his own political faction within France's Conservative party, prompting speculation he could be preparing to take over as party leader by the next presidential election - Credit: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michel Barnier has launched his own political faction, fueling speculation he could be preparing to challenge Emmanuel Macron in next year's presidential elections in France.

The EU's former Brexit negotiator announced on Tuesday that he would be establishing a new political group within the French Conservative party, Les Républicains - mere weeks before his mission in Brussels is set to end.



The group, which was officially announced during a meeting of Les Républicains lawmakers at the National Assembly, will gather MPs and senators tasked with brainstorming on various political issues from the end of March, the date at which Barnier's time in Brussels expires.

"I have a number of ideas and proposals to make, on all issues," Barnier told France Info, including "the authority of the State, decentralization and environment-friendly growth."

Barnier has not been shy about his political ambitions. He once told reporters shortly after the Brexit deal had been signed that he would "go back to France in a few weeks" and "take back my place" in the Les Républicains party, of which he has been a member for more than 55 years.


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Barnier is expected to present his proposals at the end of April, when he will publish a book based on a four-year diary of Brexit negotiations. He will draw lessons on why it happened, why it can happen again, populism and its dangers, according to France Info.

Barnier is a former French foreign minister and has for the last four-and-a-half years been leading Brexit negotiations between Britain and the EU.

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A diplomat in Brussels has told Reuters Barnier was "actively evaluating his chances" for the presidential election, which current polls show Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen as likely to reach the second round.

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