Oh dear, Emmanuel! Macron speech backfires as it sparks Frexit referendum demand

Mr Macron’s speech at the Conference on the Future of Europe has led to fresh calls for a referendum on the country’s membership to the EU. The French President opened the new EU venture in Strasbourg last weekend, urging Europeans to submit their concerns and suggestions to Brussels over the next 12 months.

Mr Macron described Europe as an unfinished project, but one which was superior to its largest allies – although he carefully avoided singling any out by name.

He said: “Europeans, Europeans, let’s consider our future! Share your expectations, your aspirations, your ideas on futureu.europa.eu.

“France will take over the Presidency of the European Union in January 2022: I pledge to do everything to change things with you!”

But his comments backfired in France where eurosceptics erupted against the latest EU venture.

Leader of Les Patriotes, Florian Philippot, urged the President to allow for a referendum on the EU.

He blasted: “I don’t want yet another bogus pseudo ‘participatory democracy’ site.

“I want a referendum on the EU, to be able to choose sovereignly to stay there or to leave it.

“Keep your com gadgets for the journalists who will relay them with zeal and for the fools!”

Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois warned the President over an organised gathering at the end of the month to protest EU integration.

READ MORE: Macron’s letter backfires in spat with Brussels over where MEPs meet

The result was a victory for the ‘No’ campaign, with 55 percent of the voters rejecting the treaty.

President Macron announced that young French people will have the unprecedented opportunity to propose new challenges and changes to the European project.

He said: “In France, we are launching today a large online consultation which will allow at least 50,000 young people to assert their priorities, their criticisms, their ideas, their dreams for Europe.”

He continued: “The criticism, the challenging, the fights, quarrels disagreements is what defines us, and it’s also what makes us more effective. It allows us to express criticism democratically.”

Dismissing criticism of the bloc’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, especially related to its sluggish vaccine rollout, he added: “I say on the contrary, it is the European model that has proven itself in this crisis.”

Europe had “resisted the pandemic together” as a result of its 71 years of shared history, Mr Macron insisted.

He also found time to highlight the virtues of the French city in which the conference was being hosted.

Mr Macron explained: “Here we are gathered in Strasbourg on May 9, which tells us a great deal about who we are, how we are going to work to shape ourselves.

“Strasbourg is the city of reconciliation after all, it is the living symbol of this Europe that said no to war, to build peace, to replace occupation with cooperation, to lift the worries of looking towards the borders, to breathe new confidence and friendship into European souls, that’s what Strasbourg is all about.”

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