The violence which has swept France has shocked President Macron’s government into action.
Announcing what appears to be a major U-turn Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said controversial tax hikes on fuel would be suspended.
“Anyone would have to be “deaf or blind” not to see or hear the rolling anger on the streets.” Philippe told a visibly tense National Assembly. “But no tax deserves to endanger the unity of the nation.” He added. It’s a huge change of tact for a Government whose President promised during his election campaign that he would never bow down to protests in the way his predecessors allegedly had done.
Within hours Philippe spoke in France’s National Assembly explaining that the taxes which have led to the large-scale riots would indeed be suspended but only for six months to allow for a dialogue to resolve the dispute.
But the reaction from some MP’s was damning: “If your only response, Mr Prime Minister, is the suspension of the Macron’s fuel taxes, then you still haven’t realised the gravity of the situation.” Damien Abad, from the right-wing Les Republicains said. “Your announcements today condemn the French people to a few months’ deferments but what they are asking you, it’s not the suspension but the cancellation of the fuel taxes. It’s too little, too late.” He went on.
While the French government deals with the crisis within the Elysee – Frustration continues to rage across France. As protesters are told that further violence will not be tolerated – more demonstrations have manifested across the country. In Lille, Northern France a peaceful sit-in continues on a roundabout. What began over fuel tax is now an anti-Macron movement who some accuse of favouring the rich. “My father was a miner, he worked hard all his life, he participated in May 1968 and I’m not ashamed. Thanks to Mai 1968 we got 30% (improved spending power)” one protester at the Lille sit-in told Euronews. “Now Mr Macron, you need to listen to the people, because you’re not listening to the people because there is misery in France.” She continued.
Student protesters in cities across France who have been complaining over education reforms for several weeks have now declared support for the yellow vests. And two transport unions are to hold a strike at the weekend.