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Élisabeth Borne and her former ministers return to the benches of the National Assembly

This Monday morning, the surroundings of the National Assembly take on the appearance of a Council of Ministers.

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Élisabeth Borne and her former ministers return to the benches of the National Assembly

This Monday morning, the surroundings of the National Assembly take on the appearance of a Council of Ministers. While Olivier Véran, visibly in a hurry, jumps into a taxi, his former colleague Clément Beaune leaves his new office, at 101, rue de l’Université, small briefcase in hand. A little further, at Café Concorde, Olivier Dussopt chats with journalists. Excluded from the government on Thursday, following the reshuffle, the three former ministers became deputies again. You'll have to get used to it.

Like them, six other former members of the government, including Élisabeth Borne, joined this Tuesday the benches of Macronist groups in need of heavyweights - Renaissance, Democratic Movement (MoDem) and Horizons. Everyone was summoned on Monday to complete administrative formalities, before participating in questions to the government on Tuesday, on the other side of the microphone. In the evening, they are invited to Matignon, with all the Macronist deputies. Nine out of 233 others.

In addition to a feeling of relegation, is there a risk of weariness overtaking these newcomers? Élisabeth Borne promised to “go to the end of (her) mandate” and to be “a full-time deputy” when she returned on Thursday to her voters in Condé-sur-Noireau (Calvados). “I want to hold my seat,” she told relatives. Privately, other former members of the executive power do not guarantee systematic attendance. “I’m not sure I’ll be the most present during the night sessions. But when the situation is tense, I will be there,” confesses one of them, while a second does not rule out resigning: “If I have an opportunity elsewhere, why not?”

During the interminable wait for the reshuffle, many hoped to be reappointed. “It’s a huge disappointment, but it’s a form of rediscovered freedom,” says the former Minister for Overseas Territories, Philippe Vigier, back on the Bonneval market (Eure-et-Loir), Monday . “It’s like going back to school in an establishment that you already know,” smiles former Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt, MP since 2007.

Thanked by Emmanuel Macron on January 8, Élisabeth Borne has been preparing her arrival for more than a month. After spending a few days off in Morocco, she had lunch last week with the President of the Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, who detected “serenity” and “desire” in her. She reconnected with the head of the Renaissance group, Sylvain Maillard, deputies and former ministers, such as Gérald Darmanin. Between the two, relations seem calmer. The Minister of the Interior even appreciated his last intervention in the courtyard of Matignon, “a beautiful speech for the children of the working classes”, in his eyes.

For her first elective mandate, the Calvados MP inherits a magnificent office at the Hôtel de Broglie, near the National Assembly. A place occupied until now by his substitute, Freddy Sertin, in anticipation of his potential return. In the Hemicycle, the former tenant of Matignon will sit in the former place of former minister Barbara Pompili. Central and close to members of the executive.

His former ministers will also be well placed, thanks to a game of musical chairs: Clément Beaune in place of Marie Lebec (Relations with Parliament) and Olivier Dussopt in place of Marie Guévenoux (Overseas), who entered the government. They will not be in the last row, unlike most of their alternates before.

Some “returners” have also made sure not to sit on the side of the left benches, from which they fear the jeers. “I can’t blame the rebels,” one of them gets annoyed in advance. They will surely organize a welcoming committee for us.” In the game of choosing commissions, the former prime minister opted for the prestige of foreign affairs. Its president, Jean-Louis Bourlanges, says he is “very flattered to receive her as a resident”, alongside Olivier Véran. The former Minister for Transport and Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, would have liked to settle there too, but he had to join the Law Commission.

While the government has become right-wing, the parliamentary majority sees its left wing strengthened. The arrival of Élisabeth Borne and the ex-socialists Olivier Dussopt, Clément Beaune and Olivier Véran gave rise among some of their peers to the desire to better structure themselves, perhaps into a distinct group. “At this stage, the creation of a separate group is not on the agenda,” assures former minister Nadia Hai, a figure of the Macronist left wing.

Élisabeth Borne herself insisted on Thursday: “The unity of the majority is essential.” “Some would dream of it, but she doesn’t want to label herself on the left,” assures one of her recent interlocutors. Which does not prevent other ex-ministers from organizing. In a recent message to the members of his party, Territoires de Progress, Olivier Dussopt recognizes a “global feeling of imbalance, even hemiplegia”. Understand: a shift to the right of the government. Vigilant, he warns: “We will have to discuss it together, debate it, to see what lessons we can learn from it.”

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