If Emmanuel Macron were British, would he be a Tory, Lib Dem or a Blairite? Or would he be blubbing into a handkerchief in a TV studio calling himself a ‘survivor’ of seduction by his teacher while his wife was banned from the teaching profession, if not put through the mill by investigators from Operation Yewtree?
If anyone doubts the gulf in societal attitudes between Britain and France, the relationship between Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux provides a rather good illustration. While there is no suggestion they had sex while he was a minor, enough is known about the couple to know how the nature of their meeting would have gone down this side of the Channel. Far from being considered slightly racy, it would almost certainly have resulted in Madame Trogenux facing serious disciplinary proceedings.
According to Macron himself, their relationship became ‘official’ when he was 18. Yet before that – when Macron was completing his final school year in Paris – Trogneux has admitted that they were already involved in some romantic association, if not physical. ‘We’d call each other all the time and spend hours on the phone’, she told Paris Match. ‘Bit by bit, he defeated all my resistance, in an amazing way, with patience’.
As for the footage which emerged yesterday of the pair kissing cheek to cheek after a drama production at his private Jesuit school in Amiens when he was 15 and she was his drama teacher, while it doesn’t hint of anything sexual it isn’t hard to imagine how it would go down in a British school.
Just ask Ruth Vaughan, a former design and technology student at Oakham School who in 2015 was banned from the teaching profession for at least three years. Her offence? To kiss a former pupil at his leavers’ ball when he was already 18 and then to begin a sexual relationship with him the following term when he had left and taken up a place at university. Maybe she should have sought asylum in France.
I am sure that if Emmanuel Macron does become French president and makes an official visit to Britain with his wife at his side both will be received warmly, while President and Prime Minister both make speeches of how much Britain and France have in common. But the blunt reality is that had Madame Trogneux begun her relationship with her now husband while she had been teaching in Britain she wouldn’t be on the verge of becoming the country’s first lady; she would very likely have been disgraced.