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French PM Edouard Philippe resigns as Emmanuel Macron prepares reshuffle

French PM Edouard Philippe resigns and is replaced by official overseeing France’s lockdown exit strategy after Emmanuel Macron said he needed to ‘reinvent’ his presidency

  • Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to ‘reinvent presidency’ in the next months 
  • Will start with a cabinet reshuffle following local election defeat last month
  • Prime Minister Edouard Philippe resigned to allow the reshuffle to take place
  • Chief behind the end of France’s lockdown will take over as prime minister

French President Emmanuel Macron has named Jean Castex as the new prime minister – after Edouard Philippe resigned from the position.

Castex, who led France’s lockdown reopening strategy, will take over amid a dramatic cabinet reshuffle as Macron tries to bolster his popularity for his final two years in office. 

Macron said he wanted to ‘reinvent’ his presidency last month following a disastrous defeat in nationwide municipal elections to the Green Party.

The Elysee Palace said outgoing prime minister Philippe would handle government affairs until a new cabinet is named in a statement this morning. 

During French cabinet reshuffles the prime minister tends their resignation ahead of the appointments.

More announcements are expected ‘in the coming hours’, a spokesman said. 

Philippe gained a large victory in the northern port city of Le Havre during local elections, making him the city’s mayor.

French president Edouard Philippe (pictured) announced his resignation ahead of a cabinet reshuffle expected ‘in the coming hours’ 

Philippe, a rightwing politician who never joined Macron’s Republic on the Move party, is considered to be more popular than the president, according to political analysts.

It comes after last month’s elections revealed surging support for the Green party and underlined Macron’s troubles with left-leaning voters.  

With only 21 months until the next presidential election, the former investment banker wants to reposition himself, close advisers say.   

Keeping Philippe in office could have suggested Macron was too weak to let go of his prime minister and that his young party lacked the depth to allow for a full-blooded cabinet overhaul.

Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to 'reinvent' his presidency last month following the disastrous defeat to the Green Party

Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to ‘reinvent’ his presidency last month following the disastrous defeat to the Green Party

Philippe had shown steadfast loyalty during waves of unrest and could emerge as a presidential rival in 2022.  

Macron poached Philippe from the centre-right opposition and holding onto him would have complicated winning back leftist voters. 

In an interview with regional newspapers publishing late Thursday, Macron said France must prepare for a ‘very difficult’ economic crisis, ‘so we have to chart a new course.’

‘I see this based on an economic, social, environmental and cultural reconstruction,’ he said. ‘Behind this, there will be a new team.’