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Britain is suddenly a beacon of stability in Europe – now it’s France that’s in turmoil | Timothy Garton Ash


Sunday’s surprising election result prompted an international sigh of relief, but Emmanuel Macron’s gamble has weakened him and Europe

It was a good week for Europe. It was a bad week for Europe. Good because Britain now has a strong, stable centrist government keen to reset relations with the EU, and voters in France rallied to keep the hard-right National Rally (RN) out of power. Bad because France looks set for a period of weak, unstable, divided government that will hamper the whole EU. This in a crucial year for our continent, with Vladimir Putin still pummelling Ukraine and Donald Trump again likely to become president of the US, unless Joe Biden steps aside as he should.

Let’s start with the good news, before getting depressed again. Britain has a responsible, pragmatic government of the centre-left, elected for up to five years. It’s led by a former human rights lawyer determined to defend the rule of law at home and internationally; embraces a judicious mix of market economy, state intervention and social justice; strongly supports Ukraine and is committed to pursuing good relations with other European countries. In fact, it’s a much better match to the values proclaimed in article 2 of the Treaty on European Union than the government of the EU member state Hungary, whose anti-liberal nationalist leader, Viktor Orbán, has been sitting down with Putin in Moscow to see how they can compel Ukraine to capitulate in the name of “peace”.

Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist. He was awarded the Charlemagne prize for services to European unity in 2017, the year before Emmanuel Macron

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