Britons upset about Brexit can come and work in France, says presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron

Independent candidate says France is hoping to attract British talent after meeting with Theresa May to discuss UK's departure from the EU 

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The Independent Online

The favourite to win the French presidential elections has said he wants British “banks, talents, researchers, academics” to move to France after Brexit.

Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron, who has become the unexpected front runner ahead of the vote in May, spoke outside 10 Downing Street after meeting with the Prime Minister on Tuesday.

He said if elected his policies would include “a series of initiatives to get talented people in research and lots of fields working here to come to France”, during the visit to London to speak to expat voters.

“I was very happy to see that some academics and researchers in the UK because of Brexit are considering coming to France to work," he told journalists.

”It will be part of my programme to be attractive for these kinds of people.

“I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on.

"I think that France and the European Union are a very attractive space now so in my programme I will do everything I can to make it attractive and successful," he added.

Downing Street confirmed the unusual meeting between Theresa May and the presidential candidate took place following a request from Mr Macron.

Mr Macron said that he had spoken to Ms May to assure her he was open to a "fair execution of Brexit" which would protect French and European interests.

Mr Macron set up his En Marche movement in April after leaving the ruling Socialist party.

Despite the late start he is now leading in the polls, having benefited from disarray among the mainstream parties.

The meeting in Downing Street allowed the former investment banker and French economy minister to be seen with a key foreign leader, while allowing Ms May the opportunity to make her case for a beneficial Brexit deal with the pro-EU French candidate.

An opinion poll on Monday put the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen seven points clear of Mr Macron and his conservative rival François Fillon, who are tied on 20 per cent, in the first round.

But Ms Le Pen would lose to Mr Macron and Mr Fillon in the 7 May run-off, the poll predicted, by margins of 16 and 12 points respectively.

Mr Macron is the only candidate to request a meeting with Ms May, although Downing Street made clear there was a long-standing Government policy not to engage with the far-right National Front party.

A spokesman said the meeting was not unprecedented and added that Tony Blair had met Nicolas Sarkozy at Number 10 when he was running for the presidency in 2007.

Mr Macron was due to address 3,000 French voters in Westminster's Central Hall early on Tuesday evening.

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