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French frontrunner tells UK: ‘I want your talent’

The French presidential frontrunner stood on the steps of Downing Street and said he wants “banks, talents, researchers, academics” to move across the Channel after Brexit.

Emmanuel Macron, who has become the unexpected favourite to win in the vote in May, launched his appeal after meeting with the Prime Minister on a visit to London for a rally of ex-pat voters.

He said his programmes would include “a series of initiatives to get talented people in research and lots of fields working here to come to France”.

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“I was very happy to see that some academics and researchers in the UK because of Brexit are considering coming to France to work.

“It will be part of my programme to be attractive for these kinds of people.

“I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on.

“I think that France and the European Union are a very attractive space now so in my programme I will do everything I can to make it attractive and successful.”

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He said that he had spoken to Mrs May to assure he he was open to a “fair execution of Brexit” which would protect French and European interests.

Mr Macron, who only started his En Marche movement in April after leaving the ruling Socialist party, has come from behind to lead the polls.

He is expected to make it through to the final two-round contest against the National Front’s Marine Le Pen, after the Republican candidate Francois Fillon‘s campaign was hit by the “Penelopegate” scandal.

Mr Fillon is accused of paying his British wife and other family members for work they did not do – he insists the jobs they had were “real”.

Mr Macron is the only candidate to request a meeting with Mrs May, although Downing Street made clear there was a long-standing Government policy not to engage with the far-right National Front party.

A spokesman said the meeting was not unprecedented and added that Tony Blair had met Nicolas Sarkozy at Number 10 when he was running for the presidency in 2007.

Mr Macron was due to address 3,000 French voters in Westminster’s Central Hall early on Tuesday evening.

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