France to leave the EU? Fascinating piece in today’s Telegraph about the surge in support for Marine Le Pen’s heavily re-branded Front National (Time to take bets on Frexit and the French franc?). For the first time ever, France’s two major parties – the UMP and the Socialists – find themselves lagging behind a political alternative. Le Pen has toned down her father’s rhetoric, and repositioned the party to be left-friendly, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the Front’s antipathy to the EU. And the Euro. ‘France is not a country that can accept tutelage from Brussels’, says Le Pen; her plans for the repatriation of powers seem drawn from a UKIP wish list.
Now, most commentators agree that the chances of the Front National actually winning power are remote, but the effect on the positioning of other parties will be very interesting. The leading party in France is in favour of exit from the EU; the UK is committed to a referendum: turbulent times. I wonder what affect these kind of shifts in public opinion have on EU planners? Do they take a break or press on regardless? Looking forward to hearing Donato Raponi (Head of VAT at the European Commission) speak next week about further harmonization of the European VAT system. I’ll blog when I get back about how he thinks the politics will effect reform.