Robert Harneis -TDO- (FRANCE) British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she’s is making a surprise visit to France on Tuesday to meet with President Emmanuel Macron. The Conservative Party leader made the announcement in a pre-recorded interview in which she also said she is looking forward to working with her new cabinet.
She is currently dealing with the consequences of her failed bid to increase her majority on the eve of Brexit talks with the European union, a hung parliament and the loss of 12 seats while the main opposition, the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, won more seats than expected.
The invitation to Paris will be a working meeting to discuss the approach the two countries will take to the talks, as well as foreign policy. Britain and France have similar positions at the United Nations and in foreign affairs generally.
George Freeman, the head of the Downing Street policy unit is reported to be a close friend of President Macron.
Macron is heading towards a large majority in the French parliamentary elections currently being held on June 11th and 18th. Never the less he too is in search of political credibility with his own electorate, who abstained in record numbers – 51% - in the first round of the elections. A high-profile visit between the two rounds will do him no harm.
At the same time on a personal level he has reason to be grateful to Mrs. May who was the first top international leader to invite him to visit in February of this year. Unusually, he was also granted a meeting with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the time, he was far from certain of winning the French presidency. Mrs May did not as might have been expected, in the light of Brexit, invite the anti-European Marine Le Pen.
The prestigious visit to Paris takes place at short notice on the same day as the British Prime Minister has to face her angry back benchers in the House of Commons and is therefore, to some extent, a helping hand and thanks for favours past. The atmosphere of business as usual at a high level will help in reminding her truculent MPs that the business of government must go on and that conflict within the party will only help the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.