Blow for Macron as French environment minister resigns live on radio

Popular French environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, announced his resignation live on radio, without informing president Macron beforehand

Nicolas Hulot (Photo: Euronews)
Nicolas Hulot (Photo: Euronews)

French President Emmanuel Macron suffered a major political blow on Tuesday as his popular environment minister, Nicolas Hulot, resigned live on radio.

Hulot, who is one of the most respected members of the cabinet among French public, announced his resignation on the France Inter radio station, before even telling the leader.

"I am taking the decision to leave the government," Hulot said, adding that he felt "all alone" on environmental issues within the government.

The 62-year-old celebrity, who made his name as an environmental campaigner, joined the government last year, but has repeatedly clashed with his cabinet colleagues over policy.

Hulot was formerly the star presenter of the hit Ushuaia environmental TV programme in France and had repeatedly turned down offers to enter government by previous French presidents.

"We're taking little steps, and France is doing a lot more than other countries, but are little steps enough?... the answer is no," he added.

It was widely reported that Hulot was close to quitting last Febraury, after media reports that the granddaughter of former French president Francois Mitterrand had accused him of rape in the 1990s. He denied the claims.

He also faced criticism from fellow green campaigners , who accused him of failing to influence the Macron government sufficiently after he lost battles with his colleagues in the agriculture and economy ministries.

Hulot was mostly disappointed when the government backtracked on a target to reduce the share of nuclear power in the country's energy mix to 50 percent by 2025, while EU negotiations on pesticides were another source of frustration.

Last Monday, the cost of a hunting licence was cut in half to 200 euros - another bitter pill for the vegetarian. Hulot was known to be furious at the government's vow to relax hunting laws in a bid to a boost Mr Macron's appeal in rural areas.

"My decision does not come only from a divergence on the hunting reform, it's an accumulation of disappointments... I don't have faith in the state anymore," he said. 

"I don't want to lie to myself anymore," said Hulot. "I don't want to give the illusion that my presence in the government means we are up to the task of meeting these [environmental] challenges".

His departure adds to mounting problems for Macron, who came to power in May last year, promising to solve decades of low growth and high unemployment in France. 

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