Marine Le Pen is no friend of Britain’s Brexit Business

In any event, her election is unlikely to unduly disrupt financial markets unless she shows clear signs of threatening national solvency. Bond markets these days tend to be quite myopic when it comes to political developments; their behavior is determined much more by the likely path of short-term interest rates than by concerns about their long-term ability to pay.

Absent a radical change in leadership at the European Central Bank – unlikely with a French national at the helm, although Christine Lagarde might despise Le Pen – a boycott of investments in French government bond markets seems unlikely.

I have an equally contrary view of Le Pen’s impact on both relations with Britain and the EU. Indeed, further EU integration would not be possible in the foreseeable future, but it is already happening; Le Pen only adds to a trend that parts of Eastern Europe have already established.

Again, for a major economy to take a Viktor Orban-like approach to the EU, and rather than follow Britain’s example of leaving the European single market altogether, simply ignore its rules and reinstate the rule of law of sovereign states, as Le Pen promised, is arguably an entirely different order of rebellion and could hole the EU below the waterline.

As Ian Bond and John Springford argued in an article for the Center for European Reform, Le Pen’s publicly declared “France first” agenda could potentially cripple the EU from within, as well as weaken profoundly the transatlantic alliance. But how far will it actually go in practice?

If it does what it says, France will quickly find itself on a collision course with the EU. In practice, we will find a way to manage together. Yes, it will look like a perpetual stalemate, but when has the EU never been in a state of apparent crisis?

When it comes to Brexit Britain, I don’t see why a Le Pen triumph at the polls would help the UK much.

Remember, she is a French nationalist, and although sympathetic to the cause of Brexit, the perceived interests of France take precedence over all other considerations. Although Macron is hostile to the Johnson government, it is easy to see things deteriorate further under Le Pen, who at the slightest sign of disagreement would wrap himself in Joan of Arc’s flag and gladly make political capital out of the conflict with the ancient enemy through the water.

If it were to bring down the whole of the EU – which, as I said, I don’t think is likely – I doubt it will help the UK either. An unstable and politically divided Europe is not in Britain’s interest at all, especially in wartime Ukraine, which demands a united European response.

Would a shock victory for Le Pen make a big difference? Outside of France itself, surprisingly little is my bet.

This article is an excerpt from The Telegraph’s Economic Intelligence newsletter. register here to get exclusive insights from two of the UK’s leading economic commentators – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard and Jeremy Warner – delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-13 05:00:00

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