Fillon vows to stay in French presidential race despite growing pressure

Things have gone from bad to worse for the French presidential candidate on the right, Francois Fillon, but he is still vowing to stay in the race.

Senior members of his team have resigned amid allegations of a fake job scandal involving his wife and children, and Fillon is under pressure to step aside after confirming he could be placed under formal investigation.

But the ex-Prime Minister told a rally near Paris: “My friends, this campaign is a strange fight. You are courageous, they want to intimidate you.

“I am being attacked but through me what they look to defeat is the recovery of the nation, and a will for change that you are representing.

“So I am asking you: don’t abdicate! Never renounce! Your commitment must continue!”

A further rally is planned on Sunday but Fillon had more bad news on Saturday when his Republican party brought forward a meeting to discuss the controversy engulfing their candidate.

Polls continue to now show that Fillon could fail to make it through to the second round of the election.

One poll suggested that if he were to be replaced by the former Prime Minister Alain Juppe, who lost to Fillon in a primary election in November, the Republicans would get through to the run-off.

Fillon’s campaign chief and main spokesman quit on Friday and the centre-right party UDI withdrew its support.

On Saturday the five Republican party members of the European Parliament also called for their party to choose a new candidate.

The candidate on the left, Benoit Hamon, also weighed in.

He told reporters: “He is offended that we are offended that he could have hired his wife with public money without her doing the job, that he wants to preserve his privileges and impunity, something unacceptable to anyone attached to the idea of a functioning democracy.”

The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is also embroiled in a row over claims of misusing EU funds but polls continue to show that she could make it through to the second round of the April/May election.

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