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Macron’s flagship immigration bill is voted down without debate

Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris on the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - MOHAMMED BADRA/EPA

Emmanuel Macron’s immigration bill has been shot down by opposition legislators without debate in a blow to the French president’s agenda.

The government has yet to decide whether to keep pushing for the adoption of the bill, intended to strengthen the country’s ability to expel foreigners considered undesirable, or withdraw it.

Members of all opposition groups on the Left and Right voted on a motion providing that the measure be rejected ahead of any debate at the National Assembly. The motion was adopted by 270 votes against 265.

French police forcibly evacuated migrants from a makeshift camp in the northern Paris suburb of Saint Denis in November 2020
French police forcibly evacuated migrants from a makeshift camp in the northern Paris suburb of Saint Denis in November 2020 - JULIEN MATTIA/ANADOLU/GETTY

Mr Macron’s centrist government does not have a majority in parliament.

The government can now choose to send the text to the senate for it to continue its difficult legislative journey.

It can also ask a commission composed of seven senators and seven lawmakers from the National Assembly to find a compromise on the bill that would still require approval from both houses of parliament.

Speaking on national television, the interior minister Gérald Darmanin, who championed the bill for months, suggested he would not withdraw it.

“This text will continue its path in line with the constitution,” he said, adding that a decision would soon be made by the government on the next step. He said he offered to resign after Monday’s vote but Mr Macron refused.

Marine Le Pen, the hard-Right legislator, said her National Rally group rejected the bill because it would instead have increased numbers of migrants coming to the country.

Mathilde Panot, president of the hard-Left Rebel France group, said the vote would “spare the country two weeks of xenophobic and racist rhetoric”.