Mr Philippe and his government resigned earlier today as Mr Macron prepared to act on a pledge to reinvent his administration and win back disillus
Mr Philippe and his government resigned earlier today as Mr Macron prepared to act on a pledge to reinvent his administration and win back disillusioned voters ahead of a possible re-election bid in 2022. But BBC politcal presenter Mr Neil said Mr Philippe remained a popular figure in France and had just been re-elected as the mayor of Le Havre from where he could emerge as an election rival to Mr Macron in two years time.
Mr Neil tweeted: “We have not heard the last of Edouard Philippe.
“His popularity with the French has been rising in recent weeks, unlike Macron’s.
“A recent poll suggested 57 percent wanted him to stay as PM.
“On Sunday he won re-election to his mayoral seat in Le Havre.”
His views are shared by political analysts in France who believe the the President is taking a gamble by replacing Mr Philippe.
The prime minister remained loyal to Mr Macron during waves of unrest and rarely emerged from his boss’ shadow.
But keeping him would have been problematic too, suggesting Mr Macron was too weak to let go of his prime minister and that his party lacked the depth to carry out a full cabinet overhaul.
READ MORE: Macron’s secret plan to bring Britain back into EU exposed
Questions over Mr Philippe’s job have swirled since mid-June when Mr Macron, whose term has less than two years to run, declared he wanted to recast his presidency as France emerges from the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Macron last month stated his desire to start afresh as France embarks on a delicate and costly recovery from its coronavirus slump.
He then suffered heavy losses in nationwide municipal elections last Sunday which revealed revealed surging support for the Green party and underlined his problems with left-leaning voters.
Mr Macron’s La Republique en Marche party failed to win a single major city, depriving the president of a local power base ahead of 2022.
Mr Macron is now struggling to reshape his administration as France grapples with the deepest economic depression since World War Two, a sharp downturn that will shrink the economy by about 11 percent in 2020 and reverse hard-fought gains on unemployment.
The President said: “The return from summer holidays will be difficult, we must get ready.”
An Elysee official described Mr Castex as a senior civil servant whose experience in local politics would help Mr Macron connect with provincial France.
The official said he was a “social Gaullist”, in reference to the more interventionist, socially minded wing of France’s centre-right.
A spokesman for the President’s office said: “A new phase begins with new talents and new ways of running government.”