Great Britain

Andrew Neil SKEWERS French MEP as she denies strikes - ‘You’ve had a YEAR of Yellow Vests’

Andrew Neil told the French MEP her country needs to secure a trade agreement with the UK within the year to ensure no further unrest is sparked on the streets of France. Emmanuel Macron has been plagued with persistent demonstrations from the Yellow Vests movement for the past year, and public workers joined in the protest in over two months of strikes. The BBC News veteran reporter told Nathalie Loiseau: "It is generally agreed that no deal would not be good for Britain but the eurozone is stagnating.

"France is rocked by strikes and unrest, Germany is in industrial recession, Italy is in an economic recession.

"Are you sure the EU can afford no deal?"

Ms Loiseau, a member of Mr Macron's La Republique En Marche! (LaREM), however dismissed concerns about tenacious public unrest.

The French MEP said: "I’m surprised that a journalist doesn’t know that there aren’t strikes any more in France but that’s not a problem.

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Andrew Neil confronted Nathalie Loiseau over the unrest in France (Image: BBC)

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Andrew Neil pointed out Emmanuel Macron has had to deal with over a year of protest from the Yellow Vests (Image: BBC)

"We are going to pass important reforms and we have one of the highest growth rates in the eurozone."

But Andrew Neil was unconvinced by Ms Loiseau's message as he interrupted her to say: "You’ve had two months of strikes and you’ve had a year of the Gilets Jaunes."

Ms Loiseau persisted with her conviction the strikes and protests had not hurt France but conceded the EU may not be able to "afford to play these games" with the UK and agree to a quick deal on trade.

She continued: "Yes, and we survived it even with a strong growth rate. That means we are very strong terms of economy.

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Nathalie Loiseau insisted France will carry on with its pension reform plans (Image: BBC)

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Macron's popularity took a serious blow because of all the proposed reforms (Image: GETTY)

"But you’re very right, I’m not sure we can afford to play these games of hurting each other.

"I do think a strong partnership is preferable to any sort of no deal and we stand ready for an ambitious offer. For this, it takes two to tango."

The Yellow Vests movement was created in 2018 in response to Emmanuel Macron's proposed tax reforms as well as to the growing cost of living and fuel prices.

Members of the movement have protested weekly since October 2018, causing major disruption across France as well as heightened tension with the Police. Over 1,800 protesters were injured in the first week of protests and a further 94 suffered injuries after clashes with the Police. 


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The Yellow Vests have been protesting regularly since October 2018 and have expanded through France (Image: GETTY)

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Emmanuel Macron faced backlash over his pension reforms which would see French workers work longer (Image: EXPRSS.CO.UK)

Mr Macron successfully shattered the traditional mainstream parties on the right and left with a promise to revive France’s fortunes by cleaning up politics and relaxing regulations investors say shackle the eurozone’s second-biggest economy.

The latest part of his renovation project involved the reform of the pension system to switch from the current 42 different pension schemes, each with their own levels of contributions and benefits, to a single, points-based system that gives every pensioner the same rights for each euro contributed.

But hard-left unions such as the CGT and FO argued that the President’s pension overhaul will force millions of French people to work longer for a smaller retirement payout.

The unions have demanded the reform be scrapped altogether, and have threatened further industrial action after French workers joined forces through December and January to protest the proposed reforms.

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