Sadiq Khan backs Emmanuel Macron over 'narrow populist' Marine Le Pen

Exclusive: London Mayor says 'the choice couldn't be clearer'

Benjamin Kentish
Sunday 07 May 2017 14:05 BST
Sadiq Khan met with Emmanuel Macron in London in March
Sadiq Khan met with Emmanuel Macron in London in March (Getty)

Sadiq Khan has urged French voters to defeat the “narrow populism” of Marine Le Pen in today’s presidential run-off.

The London Mayor met with Ms Le Pen’s rival, Emmanuel Macron, at the end of March and said he hoped the centrist triumphed in the race to become the next inhabitant of the Élysée Palace.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Mr Khan said: “I had the pleasure of meeting Emmanuel Macron three or four weeks ago and was really impressed by him – really impressed by how he is putting aside tribalism to try to provide a progressive alternative to what France has seen before.

“As far as I’m concerned the choice couldn’t be clearer: a progressive European who understands the importance of pluralism, diversity, the contribution made by all communities, the benefits of working together, versus the alternative of Marine Le Pen.

“We’ve seen across Europe and across the world the rise of narrow populist parties and nationalism and I think what we need to recognise is there are far more progressive [alternatives] and if they are ably led then people will unite behind that candidate.

“I’m looking forward to Macron defeating the narrow populism of Marine Le Pen.”

The Mayor of London was speaking in London after launching the re-election campaign of Tulip Siddiq, the last Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, who is facing a strong challenge from the Conservatives.

After meeting Mr Macron in March, Mr Khan said the 39-year-old had a “progressive, positive vision for France and Europe” but has, until now, stopped short of officially endorsing him.

It comes as French voters head to the polls to choose their next president. Opinion polls suggest Mr Macron is comfortably ahead but there are fears Ms Le Pen could benefit from abstentions and a refusal by some supporters of left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who was defeated in the first round of voting, to switch their backing to Mr Macron.

The centrist emerged from relative obscurity to stand on the verge of becoming the successor to Francois Hollande, the current president.

Mr Macron only established his En Marche! party last year after leaving the French Socialist Party, in which he served as an economic adviser and member of Mr Hollande’s cabinet.

He led a competitive field during the first round of voting, which saw left-wingers Mr Mélenchon and Benoit Hamon fall by the wayside along with Republican candidate Francois Fillion, a former prime minister of France.

The result of the vote is expected to be announced on Sunday evening, with the new president formally taking office around a week later.

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