How Nicolas Hulot resignation completes bad summer for President Macron

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The Benalla affair, which involved the French president's security aide, caused political damage to Emmanuel Macron at the start of France's summer break. The head of state hoped that the post-holiday resumption of political daily life would allow him to regain control of events. But following the shock resignation of his high-profile environment minister Nicolas Hulot, and with economic growth in France set to be lower than forecast this year, Macron seems once again at the mercy of events. Ellen Salvi analyses the French president's woes.

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The shock resignation of high-profile environment minister Nicolas Hulot live on French radio on August 28th has set the political tone as normal business resumes after the summer break. As Hulot himself made clear, no one in the government knew he was about to quit. Neither the prime minister Édouard Philippe nor Emmanuel Macron, even though the night before Hulot had seen the president at a meeting with the national hunting federation. The lobbyist for the hunting and shooting industry, Thierry Coste, was also present at that gathering and for Hulot, who was number three in the government and who denounced the influence of lobbyists in his resignation remarks, this appears to have been an humiliation too far.When President Macron was asked about the resignation during a visit to Copenhagen, he spoke about it being a “personal decision”. He made clear his respect for Hulot and also for the “freedom” of the man who was his minister for environmental transition and solidarity for a little over a year. “I think that in 15 months this government has done more than other on this issue over a similar period,” said the president, before setting out a few examples such as the government's stance on the use of hydrocarbons and the closure of coal-fired power stations.