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Michel Barnier’s “mouse hole”

Michel Barnier at the European Council in Brussels, December 2020. (FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS / AFP)

Beware of the “tour de track” effect for the former minister and the former European Union negotiator for Brexit: a return, a few interviews, and then nothing. Michel Barnier is preparing for the presidential election but for him, the risk, to be overtaken by the other contenders on the right. “Bertrand rushing out of the peloton changes the configuration, we have to accelerate” says an elected official who supports the Savoyard.

This is why Michel Barnier is getting organized, after having participated on Tuesday March 30 in his first strategic committee of the Republicans since his return, he is launching “Patriots and Europeans”, a working group with around forty parliamentarians who must try to reconcile the right with Europe. Summary of the work planned for the fall.

Michel Barnier also regularly brings together a small group of about fifteen elected officials and faithful and has just invested offices in the Parisian district of the Marais. And then, at the beginning of May, he will release a book, a block of 500 pages, his journal of his years as a Brexit negotiator. Until then, he will still be discreet in the media …

Can it be enough to win? If the hypothesis of a Barnier, candidate of the right must take, it will take quickly, or it will not take, this is what several of its supporters recognize. “If in the summer he didn’t print, it’s dead” already worries a deputy. “The time for him is shorter than for the others, he only has a mouse hole”, adds another.

Obviously remains a parameter to take into account, always the same at Les Républicains: how to choose the candidate? It will rather come at the start of the school year. A primary would reshuffle the cards, we have seen in the past that surprises are possible.

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Why does Michel Barnier go to so much trouble? If we place ourselves on the side of his supporters, two explanations: Michel Barnier is attached to his political family, it is true that he remained at LR. And then, in 50 years of political life, he has never been a candidate for the Elysee Palace. And he was never Prime Minister either. There, we arrive on the side of those who do not support him. “He places himself for Matignon”, ensures an elected LR. Finally, and this is more personal, with this presidential ambition, there can be a form of revenge for someone who has sometimes lacked recognition from his political family.

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