French presidential candidate Macron meets British PM May

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 08:32 GMT, Feb 22, 2017 |

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron told British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday (February 21) that her country should not receive preferential treatment from the European Union after quitting the bloc.

Macron briefed reporters on their meeting after talks with May at her office, a coup for the young front runner who has been seeking to boost his credibility on the world stage.

“We had a very good discussion with the Prime Minister and we had the opportunity to cover all the topics regarding the relationship between the UK and the European Union, and UK and France,” he said outside 10 Downing Street.

Macron, 39, a former economy minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government, is running as an independent. He had previously vowed to be “pretty tough” with Britain over the terms of Brexit.

After leaving May’s office, Macron was due to meet Britain’s finance minister Philip Hammond.

During a slow walk through London’s government district, which is home to major tourist attractions like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, Macron was surrounded by TV crews and by French visitors wanting selfies with him.

He was due to hold a campaign rally later in London, which is home to an estimated 200,000 French nationals. After that, he was due to meet donors for dinner.

Le Pen was also campaigning outside France on Tuesday, using a two-day visit to Lebanon to bolster her own foreign policy credentials.

A spokesman for May told reporters it was long-standing British government policy not to engage with Le Pen’s anti-immigration National Front party.

Asked if he wanted banks to move to France after Brexit, Macron responded that he wanted not only banks but also academics, researchers and talented people in general to return to France, adding that his programme would contain a series of initiatives to attract such people.

A spokesman for May said London was a leading global financial centre and would remain so after Brexit.