Dissipate possible tensions, clear up misunderstandings. "We are here in a family setting," warns Emmanuel Macron, looking amused at the forty or so guests gathered in the ballroom of the Elysee. The twelve strokes of noon have just struck this Tuesday, June 15 and the President of the Republic, for once on time, sits behind the desk with in front of him a sacred skewer: the former Prime Minister Alain Juppé , five members of the government (Gérald Darmanin, Sébastien Lecornu, Olivier Véran, Olivier Dussopt and Marc Fesneau), the former spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye, the deputy Thierry Solère, the former collaborators of Matignon Benoît Ribadeau-Dumas and Charles Hufnagel, but also the mayor of Toulon Hubert Falco and the boss of Carrefour Alexandre Bompard. They all have one thing in common:they received their card to attend the decoration ceremony of their friend Édouard Philippe, elevated to the rank of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.
Twice postponed due to Covid-19, the ceremony, which decorates a Prime Minister after at least two years of passage in Matignon, has finally taken place. " It was time ! Evil tongues saw this as a sign of tensions, and even of a budding rivalry between the two. But you don't put forty people in one room when the country is confined. It was just that! One of the participants annoys.
Since Edouard Philippe left rue de Varenne, the former executive couple has actually seen little time again.
And, the mayor of Le Havre, him, has continued to accumulate ambiguities: the promotion of his book "Impressions and clear lines", co-written with his friend MEP Gilles Boyer (also present on Tuesday), the city tour to activate his network of elected officials, and of course the uncertainties that he leaves hovering around his commitment alongside Emmanuel Macron for the presidential election of 2022. All complemented by a few “bad phrases in the press”, according to the two clans, that excited those around.
"We have formed a harmonious team"
So, this Tuesday at midday, when the presidential pre-campaign is taking shape, it was time to relax. “It was simple and sober. The president sent the right messages, ”comments a relative. Effectively. Recalling first of all the career of Édouard Philippe, “symbol of the republican meritocracy”, and the way in which he was “worthy of the legacy of Antoine Rufenacht (
Editor's note, former mayor of Le Havre, died in 2020
) ”, The President of the Republic especially insisted on these three years common at the top of the State. "We have formed a harmonious, complementary team, imbued with friendship, which has been useful to the French", underlined Emmanuel Macron in a speech of about twenty minutes, "three years of reforms, transformations, cordial understanding , unwavering loyalty and ever-renewed energy ”.
Standing by his side, Edouard Philippe drank whey. Even more when his host recalled how he had joined him in May 2017, when he still had his Republicans card: “At no time did you hesitate. Not out of personal ambition, but out of a sense of the State and out of conviction, because, for you, the homeland always takes precedence over parties, ”he continued, alternating with sometimes more personal references. He thus spoke of his parents, both teachers, his love for swashbuckling novels, his passion for Alexander the Great, his ability to write speeches in Alexandria, the Tagada strawberries of which Philippe consumes "a kilo per months ”, not to mention his taste for Corona beer.
“We felt them quite moved,” says one participant. Even more when Emmanuel Macron also alluded to the ordeal of the health crisis they faced during the first wave. And this nascent white beard that the French discovered as the weeks - and the virus - progressed: "Your beard has become the image of the crisis and the thermometer of the crisis", thus spun Emmanuel Macron before to make a hint a little later as a promise: "You still have a lot to build in your city ... even more to bring to the Republic". End of speech. A glass of champagne for the guests, with the exception of Alain Juppé who left just after. Then the president and his wife Brigitte invited the Philippe couple and their three children to lunch.