Mark Almond, director of the Crisis Research Institute in Oxford, launched a scathing attack on the French centrist president after he was forced in to an embarrassing U-turn following violent protests at the weekend, which saw protestors turn Paris into a battle zone against his fuel tax rises. He said every successful president “needed a bedrock of support”, adding: “And in the absence of one, Macron has come crashing back down to earth. “His popularity has nosedived and France ablaze with protests by the Gilets Jaunes – or Yellow Vests – which erupted, initially, over a planned rise in the tax on petrol and diesel”. The Yellow Vest protests pose the most formidable challenge yet to Mr Macron’s presidency.
The revolt caught Emmanuel Macron by surprise, when the yellow vests torched cars, looted boutiques and smashed up private homes and cafes in some of Paris’s most affluent neighbourhoods.
And today his government was forced into an embarrassing climbdown, with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe saying he had no choice but to suspend planned fuel tax hikes.
Mr Almond accused Remainers of wanting a “its own Macron” in the UK – but insisted this would be “dangerous”.
READ MORE: Macron BUCKLES
Writing for the Daily Telegraph, he accused Mr Macron – who he described as “last year’s saviour of Europe” – of being a “an obdurate defender of an elite agenda” in the wake of the violent clashes in Paris.
He said: “Last year’s saviour of Europe has turned out to be an obdurate defender of an elite agenda which offends vast swathes of Right, Left and not least centre.
“By making Macron their standard-bearer, the EU’s leaders risked backing a bubble waiting to burst.
“This is the EU which Remainers wish us to rejoin, ideally with the UK electing a Macron of its own.
“But we all need to recognise that populism of the centre – unanchored from the concerns of any constituency of any size – cannot hold. To think that an image makeover will cure the European model is dangerous.
In a direct warning to EU supporters in Britain, who want the UK to remain in the EU after Brexit, he added: “Macron faces his own Waterloo if he cannot push through his policies against a mutinous populace.
“But whatever happens, France’s crisis should dispel the Remainers’ fantasy that a bit of centrist populism here will magically resolve the discontents that led to Brexit or to the EU-wide collapse of faith in the old order.”
Roughly 10,000 tear gas canisters and stun grenades were fired as well as water canons over the weekend, as security forces struggled to take back control.
Paris police said 412 people were arrested on Saturday during the worst clashes in the capital for years.
Three people have been killed and 263 people were injured, including 23 police officers since protests broke out more than two weeks ago.
The so-called “yellow vests” protests, which erupted on November 17, were focused on denouncing a squeeze on household spending brought about by Mr Macron’s taxes on diesel, which he says are necessary to combat climate change and protect the environment.