French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ / POOL MAXPPP OUT


French PM ‘in firing line’ as Macron reshuffle rumours abound


French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne is tipped to lose her job as President Emmanuel Macron promises what looks like another Government reshuffle.

It comes after the French Parliament passed a divisive immigration bill before Christmas, the latest in a long line of political controversies.

Macron cancelled the first scheduled Cabinet meeting for 2024. Instead, he stated he would begin the year with a “meeting with the nation”.

The declarations have caused rumours to swirl about a wide-ranging reshuffle of current ministers.

A visit by Borne to the Elysée Palace, the French President’s residence, on January 6 caused many to wonder if she was going to be kicked out.

While the President’s team insisted that the meeting was only to discuss weather problems in the North of France, it lasted well over an hour and fuelled speculation in French media.

Macron has not set a date or even fully described what he means by a “meeting with the nation”. Some believe he intends a straightforward national address, while others think he might trigger a cross-party conference to try to find consensus, or new allies, for his minority Government.

France24, reported one advisor going so far as to say “a new prime minister” could be on the cards as soon as January 8.

Other commentators, including Le Figaro journalist Guillaume Tabard, said Borne is going nowhere. Macron is no fan of sharing his power since “the idea of a double-headed executive is nonsense in his eyes”, he said.

Since Borne does not command much popularity and has little of her own political support base, it makes her the perfect prime minister for Macron, say observers.

Since the last French parliamentary elections in 2022, the country has seen a number of ministers resign or lose their positions.

A reshuffle in the summer last year was seen as Macron trying bring his administration “back to school” and refresh his Cabinet.

That followed months of rioting and a very tight win in a vote of no confidence in the French Government.

Rumours also circulated then that Borne would be thrown to the wolves; they proved false.

In Parliament, Macron is supported by a coalition of his liberalist Renaissance party (formerly La Republique en Marche) and other smaller centrist parties.

It is outnumbered by a combined opposition on its political Right and Left, making it difficult to pass legislation.