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The Prime Minister asks the Keeper of the Seals to restrict his freedom of speech.

Four days before the second round of the legislative elections, it is a bad timing. It is all the more embarrassing for the executive as this clash, the first in the government, does not oppose just anyone: the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, and the Keeper of the Seals, François Bayrou. Questioned Monday by France Info on the phone call that the Minister of Justice made to a leader of Radio France to protest against an investigation carried out by journalists from the house on the parliamentary assistants of the MoDem, Édouard Philippe called his minister to order: "When you are a minister, you are no longer simply a man driven by his passions, or by his bad temper, or by his indignation. And to insist: "We can no longer react as when we are a simple citizen."

"When one is a minister, one is no longer simply a man driven by his passions, or by his bad humor, or by his indignation"

The Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe

A reframing hardly appreciated by the boss of the Modem. "Every time there is something to say to French people, to officials, whether they are politicians, whether they are journalists, whether they are in the media, every time there is something to say, I will say it, ”warned Bayrou, on the sidelines of a support trip to a legislative candidate. The Keeper of the Seals, who spoke on the telephone with the tenant of Matignon, assured that he had not sought to put "pressure" on the press. “When there is something to say, we say it. We just say it, we say it without any pressure, but we say it. So that the civic dialogue between journalists and officials and citizens is a frank dialogue”, he continued.

Flagship campaign promise

This controversy comes as the Keeper of the Seals must present to the Council of Ministers, this June 14, the bill intended to restore “confidence” in public life – first text of the five-year term and flagship promise of the campaign. The investigation into the MoDem's European parliamentary attachés is Captain Haddock's piece of plaster which now sticks to the action of the Keeper of the Seals. Former employees of his party, Matthieu Lamarre and Karine Aouadj both claim to have worked only for the MoDem when they were paid by the European Parliament. The first, dismissed from the centrist party for serious misconduct, is currently cabinet member of Anne Hidalgo, while the second benefited from a financial transaction to leave the political movement with which it was in difficulty.

The defense of the MoDem, argues that “the latter benefited from part-time employment contracts between the MoDem and the European Parliament as a local assistant. Half-time from June 1, 2010 to December 1, 2012, then two-thirds of the time”. The emails and text messages exchanged between François Bayrou's former assistant and Marielle de Sarnez show that Karine Aouadj was indeed in charge of managing the MEP's agenda and travel. How far will justice have to go to check whether part-times were respected to the nearest euro? On the European Parliament's website, it is detailed that local European assistants can “work from their electoral constituency” and have the task of “assisting MEPs in their proximity work with citizens, associations and political authorities”. For François Bayrou, the imperative of reconciling his functions as Minister of Justice and simple litigant is at stake.

This article is published in the Figaro edition of 14/06/2017. Access its PDF version by clicking here

Source: Le Figaro Premium – Parliamentary assistants: tensions between Édouard Philippe and François Bayrou

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