French tax

French tax witch hunt fears as foe of ‘neoliberal Thatcherite’ order wins key job in Parliament

Eric Woerth, the outgoing chairman of the Conservatives’ finance committee, who recently joined the Macron camp, said the president’s role was “to control government action and public policy, not to poke his nose into [tax] records of any individual, family or business”. After the vote, he expressed “doubts about France Insoumise regarding this”.

Gilles Carrez, his right-wing predecessor, said: “The fear is that LFI being constantly political and having an extremely strong ideological content, it could be tempted to organize leaks.

“Tax secrecy is dynamite, and you have to be extremely responsible. It is a fundamental element in a democratic country. Throwing individual or corporate tax details to the dogs is the start of totalitarianism.

He is also liable to one year in prison and a fine of €15,000.

Mr Coquerel insisted he had no intention of ordering an ‘individual witch hunt’ and said: ‘I embody genuine opposition to the system and at the end of the ‘there is no no ‘Thatcher alternative’, he said. “We defend a program that breaks with neoliberalism but we know how to do it within the framework of democracy.”

He said ‘we’re not going to use it to target political opponents’ but added that if he could use his position to track down big business tax evasion ‘I wouldn’t hesitate to do so’ .

The committee also has the power to cancel proposed amendments to any legislation if it believes it will unnecessarily burden public finances.

The result is a setback for the National Rally, which had argued it deserved the presidency as the largest single opposition group with 89 seats. However, while the LFI has fewer MPs with 75, it is part of a larger left-green alliance called Nupes which has 151 seats in total.

The RN hoped to use this position to bolster its credentials as a credible party fit to govern. Jean-Philippe Tanguy, his defeated candidate, said his rival’s election was “not only illegitimate in terms of the rules, it is piracy and a major threat to the economic stability of the country”.

Mr Macron’s inability to forge a parliamentary majority complicates his reform plans and has forced him to seek alliances with MPs from other parties to cobble together a majority, which Elisabeth Borne, his embattled Prime Minister, does not has so far failed to obtain. She is due to outline her plans in an address to parliament next Wednesday.