Brigitte Macron, France’s first lady, has urged the country to ‘have faith’ in her husband Emmanuel as his approval ratings have collapsed to 40 per cent ahead of a crunch week for the new president.
Her comments came just two days before Mr Macron’s government is to unveil the details of crucial labour reforms to unions, on Thursday.
At the presidential couple’s country home in Le Touquet, a seaside resort in northern France popular with Britons, Mrs Macron, 64, was asked whether she had a message for her compatriots for “la rentrée” – the French word for the return to school and work after the long summer holidays.
“They must have faith,” she told BFM TV.
“I tell them that my husband is doing everything to ensure that (la rentrée) takes place as best as possible.”
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Aware that his lofty style has started to grate on the French, Mr Macron, 39, has promised to talk to the nation once or twice a month, and on Tuesday named a new spokesman for the Elysée Palace, the journalist Bruno Roger-Petit.
His relatively inexperienced cabinet held a seminar at the Elysée on Monday in which ministers were urged to be more forceful in defending his reforms and countering rival claims that his presidency is more spin than substance.
Mrs Macron’s plea to trust her husband came as the president pronounced the fight against “Islamist terrorism” his top priority as he outlined France’s foreign policy goals to ambassadors.
“France’s security is the main purpose of our diplomacy,” he told 170 diplomats, as he pledged to focus on achieving concrete results, from brokering peace talks in Libya to leading efforts to address Europe’s migrants crisis.
Mr Macron touched on Brexit, saying negotiations over Britain leaving the EU “should not take up all our energy”.
“I would rather build the future than go over the past,” he said, pledging new initiatives on the future of the bloc after the German elections in September.
Since taking up office in May, France’s youngest leader since Napoleon has won plaudits in handling tricky leaders from Donald Trump to Vladimir Putin.
But the French are already expressing scepticism over his reform plans, and displeasure at austerity measures – such as reducing state housing aid – as his government seeks to honour state deficit commitments.
Every move he and his…