The Telegraph 2024-07-02 18:33:13

France election results: More than 150 candidates pull out of race to block hard-Right win

More than 150 candidates have withdrawn ahead of France’s second round of elections on Sunday in a bid to block a hard-Right win.

Candidates from Emmanuel Macron’s party and the hard-Left announced they had pulled out on Monday afternoon, avoiding the potential for them to eat into each other’s vote share.

The move is designed to unite opposition to Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, preventing the party from winning enough seats to form a majority.

A running tally by French newspaper Le Monde on Monday said that 169 candidates had already withdrawn by 4pm.

National Rally topped the first round of voting on Sunday with 33.15 per cent of the vote, while the Left-wing New Popular Front alliance came second with 28.14 per cent, and Mr Macron’s centrists on 20.76 per cent.

Voters have ‘moral’ duty

Speaking on Sunday after the results came in, Gabriel Attal, the country’s prime minister, urged his party’s centrist candidates to drop out of races where they were in third place behind the hard-Left and Ms Le Pen’s party.

He then said voters had a “moral” duty to do everything they could to “prevent [National Rally] from winning an absolute majority” in the run-off on Sunday, July 7.

That would entail voting for candidates from the Left-wing bloc, including the hard-Left France Unbowed, to keep Ms Le Pen out of power.

Those calls were echoed by figures on the hard-Left, who told Mr Macron’s supporters to vote for them.

Clémentine Autain, of France Unbowed (LFI), said the “neither nor” approach of some centrists who are opposed to voting both for the National Rally and her party “has only one winner: the far-Right.”

“The far-Right is at the gates of power. We must do everything to prevent them from winning and to open up hope with the New Popular Front,” she said on social media.

Opposition to withdrawals

It is not immediately clear if the withdrawals on Monday were carried out with the blessing of Mr Macron, who had earlier expressed opposition to the idea of endorsing the hard-Left.

Shortly after the first voting estimates were published, the French president said: “Faced with the [National Rally], the time has come for a broad, clearly democratic and republican rally for the second round. But what is a ‘clearly democratic and republican rally’ today? Should it include LFI, accused of anti-Semitism?”

Bruno le Maire, the French finance minister, echoed those sentiments on Monday morning, claiming the hard-Left are as dangerous to nation as the hard-Right.

Mr Macron called for snap elections after suffering a humiliating defeat in European Parliament elections last month.

If the National Rally takes an absolute majority and Jordan Bardella, the party’s president, becomes France’s prime minister, it would create a tense period of “cohabitation” with Mr Macron, who has vowed to serve out his term until 2027.

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Watch: Theresa May is ringing doorbells in Scotland to drum up support for Tories

Theresa May has left a message on a doorbell camera while out canvassing in Scotland.

Footage captures the former prime minister at the doorstep of a property on a residential road in the constituency of Perth and Kinross-shire.

Wearing a light blue scarf and navy blazer, Mrs May is seen greeting residents who walk by.

One calls out to her “nice to see you Theresa”, to which she responds: “Nice to see you”, before adding: “It would be even nicer if you support Luke”.

After ringing the doorbell and receiving no response, Mrs May looks towards the camera on the front door and says: “My name is Theresa May, and I am here supporting Luke Graham, the Conservative candidate for the general election on July 4.

“As you are not in, I’ll pop a leaflet through your door.”

Luke Graham is the Conservative candidate in Perth and Kinross-shire.

Mr Graham was most recently the Conservative MP for Ochil and South Perthshire and left the Commons in November 2019.

Ochil and South Perthshire is a former constituency that ceased to exist following a boundary change in 2024.

It comes as Labour’s vote share has fallen to its lowest level in more than two years ahead of the general election, new polling shows.

Support for the party has dropped by four percentage points in the space of a week following Sir Keir Starmer’s final head-to-head debate with Rishi Sunak and amid increased scrutiny of his policies.

A poll of 2,092 adults by Savanta for The Telegraph, conducted between Wednesday and Thursday, saw the firm record the lowest Labour support since January 2022 as the gap between Labour and the Conservatives dropped to 17 percentage points.

But with a vote share of 38 per cent – compared to the Tories’ 21 per cent and Reform’s 14 per cent – Labour is on course for a majority of more than 260 seats if the current figures are replicated on Thursday, seat modeller Electoral Calculus predicts.

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Prison officer accused of having sex with an inmate on video appears in court

A prison officer allegedly filmed having sex with an inmate in a cell has appeared in court charged with misconduct in public office.

Linda De Sousa Abreu, 30, of Fulham, south-west London, was charged after a video of the alleged activity was shared on social media.

Ms De Sousa Abreu appeared at Uxbridge magistrates’ court on Monday for a brief hearing.

A police investigation was launched on Friday after officers were made aware of a video said to have been filmed inside HMP Wandsworth in south London.

An arrest was made later that day and Ms De Sousa Abreu was charged with misconduct in public office on Saturday, police added.

The charge against her alleges that between June 26 and 28, while acting as a public officer, namely an HMP Wandsworth prison officer, “you wilfully and without reasonable excuse or justification misconducted yourself in a way which amounted to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder by engaging in a sexual act with a prisoner in a prison cell”.

Niamh McDonagh, prosecuting, asked that Ms De Sousa Abreu’s Portuguese passport remain in police possession and that she not be allowed to apply for any international travel documents.

Magistrate Julie Cook, who granted Ms De Sousa Abreu conditional bail, barred her from entering any UK travel ports and imposed an electronically monitored curfew.

Addressing Ms De Sousa Abreu, who wore a prison-issue grey tracksuit, the magistrate said: “This matter before us today is indictable only and has to be heard at the crown court.”

Ms De Sousa Abreu was described by Gayathri Yogarajah, her lawyer, as a “young mother” and “a person of good character”.

She will next appear at Isleworth Crown Court on July 29 for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

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Le Pen’s economics policies would be a disaster for France, says Farage

Nigel Farage has said Marine Le Pen’s economics policies would be a “disaster” if the National Rally won power in France.

The Reform UK leader said the hard-Right party would be “even worse for the economy than the current lot”.

But he praised Giorgia Meloni, the hard-Right prime minister of Italy, saying: “She’s brought her party into the 21st century. Some of the more radical Italians might not like it, but she’s been a very good thing and she’s made her party electable.”

Mr Farage spoke to the Unherd website before the National Rally won the largest share of the vote in the first round of the snap French parliamentary election on Sunday night.

French stocks rallied because that pointed to Ms Le Pen’s party failing to get an absolute majority in the second round, soothing investor fears of a “Frexit” from the EU. 

They had plummeted after Emmanuel Macron called the snap vote, having lost in European elections to the National Rally.

Ms Le Pen and Mr Farage’s relationship dates back to when both were members of the European Parliament, and has had its ups and downs.

The two Eurosceptics hold tough views on immigration, and both have denied accusations that they are soft on Vladimir Putin

However, Ms Le Pen favours a more Left-wing and protectionist economic policy than Mr Farage. Her policies are grounded in cutting taxes, raising spending and borrowing heavily. In recent days, the party has rowed back on some of its more expensive plans in a bid to reassure markets.

Mr Farage, who has a longer history of backing free markets and low borrowing, has argued for significant spending cuts to try to shake up the Government’s finances.

In 2014, Mr Farage refused to form a European parliamentary alliance with Ms Le Pen when they were both MEPs because of her party’s “anti-Semitism and general prejudice”.

Ms Le Pen accused Mr Farage of “aggression” after European elections when both had led their Eurosceptic parties to victory. In a reference to his alleged roving eye, she suggested that the then Ukip leader had only formed an alliance with a rival party because its parliamentary assistants were prettier.

But writing in The Telegraph in 2017, Mr Farage praised Ms Le Pen for reshaping a party with roots “deep in Vichy” and with anti-Semitism “embedded in its DNA”. He said: “She is a sincere Eurosceptic,” added that her party was now “about sovereignty, not race”.

He backed her in her failed run at the French presidency that year, which included a now ditched campaign promise to hold a “Frexit” referendum.

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Cost of covering just one striking junior doctor hits £100,000

The cost of covering just one striking junior doctor has hit about £100,000 as strike action enters its 16th month…

Ed Davey tries out Zumba dance class after bungee jumping stunt

Sir Ed Davey has taken part in an outdoor Zumba class – marking the latest episode of his series of campaign stunts.

The Liberal Democrat leader was filmed in a field participating in the Latin-inspired dance workout in Wokingham, Berkshire, on Monday.

Sporting an orange t-shirt and black shorts, he was seen dancing among around a dozen others while music was blaring from a speaker.

In the footage, he rolled his arms and shoulders before scuttling sideways across a field while making circular motions with his hands.

On Thursday, Sir Ed took part in a bungee jump as he urged voters to take a similar “leap of faith” and back the Liberal Democrats.

He sought a general election poll bounce for his party by flinging himself off a crane platform while shouting: “Do something you’ve never done before – vote Liberal Democrats.”

One onlooker at the event in Eastbourne, East Sussex, could be heard saying: “Is there anything he won’t do?” – a nod to Sir Ed’s stunt-laden campaign, which has also included paddleboarding and rollercoasters.

Sir Ed was seen smiling after the jump as his harness was removed.

Speaking ahead of polling day, Sir Ed said: “To get the change our country needs this week and beat the Conservatives in scores of seats, I am asking people to take a leap of faith and vote for the Liberal Democrats.”

He added: “A lot of people are on the cusp of doing something they’ve never done before on Thursday and voting for the Liberal Democrats, so I decided to do something I’ve never done before, too.

“Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote to fix the NHS and care, end the sewage scandal and tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”

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Princess Anne ‘deeply saddened’ to miss memorial after horse injury

The Princess Royal has said she is “deeply saddened” to miss a memorial ceremony in Canada, as she made her first public comments since being hospitalised last week.

The Princess, who had intended to fly to the Commonwealth realm this weekend, said it was with “deep regret” that she is not able to join a service to mark the centenary of the Newfoundland National War Memorial.

She said she was compelled to cancel her trip after suffering concussion following an incident with a horse.

She suffered what the Palace has described as “minor injuries and concussion”, with wounds thought to be consistent with being hit on the head by a horse’s leg or head.

The King’s sister, 73, spent five nights at Southmead Hospital in Bristol after being hurt while walking on her Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire.

She departed privately on Friday morning without being seen and is continuing her recovery at home.

The Canadian memorial ceremony saw the repatriation of the remains of an unknown First World War soldier from Newfoundland, who fell on the battlefields in Northern France.

In her absence, the Princess’s remarks were read by the Canadian Governor General. 

“It is with deep regret that I am unable to be with you today, as you commemorate the brave efforts and sacrifices of the members of the Newfoundland Regiment who went into battle on the first day of the Somme,” the Princess said.

“I have fond memories of joining you in 2016, on the 99th occasion that the people of this Island commemorated the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, and I am deeply saddened that I’m unable to join you again, and I send you my warmest best wishes on this special day of commemoration.”

Princess’s engagements postponed

The Princess has postponed a further week of engagements, after a serious accident on Sunday, June 24.

Her team have postponed engagements in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and Gloucester in the coming week, with all further work to be assessed in line with advice from doctors.

In a written statement after her discharge, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Princess’s husband, said: “I would like to extend my warmest thanks to all the team at Southmead Hospital for their care, expertise and kindness during my wife’s short stay.”

It is not known how long the Princess will spend convalescing, but she will be receiving rehabilitation support at home.

The repatriation of the Unknown Soldier, who served at Beaumont-Hamel in France in the First World War, has been described by the Royal Canadian Legion as “momentous”.

He will be interred at the refurbished Newfoundland National War Memorial which is being rededicated to mark its 100th anniversary.

Why Princess Anne and the Royal family’s love for horses endures – despite endless injuries

Read more

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