Emmanuel Macron may have the lowest approval ratings of any modern-era French president during their first 100 days – but here in Britain, the bromance is still going strong. Ever since Macron came to power, male politicians in the UK have been heaping praise on the centrist politician. So much so, that at times it has felt as if they are desperate to follow in his political footsteps.
So, with talk of a new centrist pro-EU party in the pipeline, which Brits think they have what it takes to emulate Macron?
Once Labour’s great hope, Umunna has seen his leadership hopes dashed as his party has lurched left away from the centre. Perhaps that’s why he was so keen to say Macron’s victory ought to be a lesson to the Labour party: ‘he proved a positive, modern political vision can win without pandering to nativists’. In a further bid to align himself with Macronomics, Umunna went so far as to claim Macron had actually consulted him about forming a new party — now known as En Marche! — before proceeding.
The people’s snowflake, Lineker has been heralded by Rachel Johnson as the answer to all centrists’ woes. At a dinner (in Primrose Hill, natch), Johnson and her friends decided that Lineker should be ‘the new Macron of the middle ground’. The former footballer doesn’t seem too opposed to the idea either (though it might mean having to part with his £2m BBC salary). He has also been highlighting his similarities to France’s main man.
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer was quick out of the starting blocks to position himself as Macron’s No 1 UK cheerleader. Heralding Macron as his friend, Osborne took the victory as proof you can ‘win from the centre’ – something Osborne would like to see his own party do once more.
Chuka isn’t the only Labour stalwart to embrace their inner-Macron. Labour’s prince across the water praised Macron’s ‘tremendous achievement’ following his win, branding it a ‘bulwark against evil forces and tribune for modernisation in France and Europe’. With the older Miliband brother still seen as the centrist that got away, is it finally David’s time to shine?
Like Osborne, Freeman has been at pains to stress his deep and personal connection to Macron. The Conservative MP has also written of the need for his party to rebrand and try and appeal to younger voters following the disastrous snap election result. To do this, he has proposed a Tory take on Glastonbury, which he hopes to be a ‘cross between Hay-on-Wye and the Latitude festival’. It’s not quite Macron’s Daft Punk stunt, but it’s close.
Although some other politicians try and be discreet with their Macron ambitions, Cable has no such qualms. On becoming the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cable claimed he could offer ‘exactly the formula’ of Macron. If that’s the lowest approval ratings on record, then it may prove an offer too bad to take up.
Although not strictly a politician, the Financial Times columnist has carved out a place for himself as the voice of the liberal elite. Ganesh – an out-and-proud citizen of nowhere – has written favourably of ‘an anti-Brexit party’ which ‘has the sharp focus to appeal’. He has also said that Macron showed just how ‘political talent can trump the zeitgeist’: ‘For liberals the way back to power can happen in a flash with a class act’. Is Ganesh the ‘class act’ we’ve been waiting for?
The former Prime Minister may have come before Macron, but he also appears to have intentions of being around long after. Despite being greeted with widespread groans every time he makes an intervention, Blair is intent on a political comeback. And at a time when UK politics is lurching to the right and left, Macron offers a new blueprint, according to Blair:
‘What Emmanuel Macron grasped, is that the only serious response is not to ignore the concerns which are genuine and understandable; but rather to explain the answers which will truly advance the interests of the people. He did so, on a platform with remarkable ideological clarity: moving beyond old paradigms of left and right and pitting himself vigorously against the new populism sweeping Western politics. The relief across the world at the Macron victory is therefore palpable and justified.’
However, Mr S suspects the relief in Britain would also be palpable if all eight would-be Macrons took a extended vacation to France.
Update: Although Mr S had initially thought the romance between UK politicians and Emmanuel Macron to be a predominantly male phenomenon, Steerpike may have been mistaken. Anna Soubry has been in touch:
As a pro-EU centrist, Mr S is more than happy to add the Conservative MP to the list of would-be Macrons.