Macron crisis: French President’s deputy quits role within party – 'Nothing has changed!'

Pierre Person, Deputy general delegate of La République En Marche! (LREM) has confirmed he will step down from his executive role and insisted “nothing has changed” since the party gained power in 2017. Mr Person, who helped to mastermind Mr Macon’s presidential victory three years ago, insisted LREM is “no longer dynamic enough” and hoped his decision would serve as an “electric shock” to “give new life” to the party.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, he said: “To give new life to the party, I am choosing to resign from my job at the direction of LaREM, leaving my post of deputy general delegate and no longer sitting on the executive board.

“I become again a militant among the militants and obviously remain a member of the parliamentary group.”

Mr Person was elected in the National Assembly to represent Paris in 2017.

The 31-year-old added LREM “needs to have its own reason to exist” rather than just “copy and pasting the message of the government”.

Mr Macron received a huge wake-up call in June after his party was humiliated in the local elections.

His centralist LREM party failed to win any major city after a resurgent Green Party and its left-wing allies made huge gains.

The Greens secured victories in Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Besançon.

Prior to the election in May, 24 MPs walked out of his party and shattered the French President’s overall majority in parliament.

Mr Macron now has just 281 members in the lower chamber – well short of the 289 needed for an absolute majority.

At the height of Mr Macron’s popularity following his election win in 2017, his LREM party had a commanding majority with 314 MPs in parliament.

The French President is seeking a re-election in 2022 and when asked if the party would be ready in two years’ time, Mr Person said “not in the current state”.

He said: “If the party wants to survive in the long term and to exist in the ‘common house’ being created with our allies, it must better define what it represents.

“It must have its own ‘raison d’être,’ [purpose] without carrying only in ‘copy and paste’ the message of the Government.”

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)



Activist ValueAct played a key role in speeding up Citigroup CEO's retirement, sources say

CEO Michael Corbat answers questions at Citi’s 2017 Investor Day.

Source: Citigroup.com

Three years ago, Michael Corbat strode onto the stage of a ballroom in midtown Manhattan and proclaimed that a new day had arrived at Citigroup.

The bank had set up the July 2017 event, its first investor meeting since the 2008 financial crisis nearly sank the firm, as a splashy reset for the shareholder community. Held within a grand limestone building that once housed the Greenwich Savings Bank, the message from Corbat was clear: Despite missing previous performance goals, the bank had completed an expensive overhaul and could now be trusted.

“You have been patient with us,” Corbat told the audience, sounding almost apologetic. “And I want you to know that we don’t take that patience for granted and we don’t think it is inexhaustible.”

But Corbat and his management team have largely disappointed investors since that 2017 meeting, and that was a key factor in the CEO accelerating his retirement plans, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Last week, Citigroup said that Corbat, 60, was stepping down in February, and that his lieutenant Jane Fraser would become the first female head of a major Wall Street bank.

In particular, the activist hedge fund ValueAct was “very disappointed” in the bank’s performance under Corbat and his deputies since it built up a stake in 2018, primarily because the bank continually missed or changed its performance targets, according to the people, who declined to be identified speaking about the matter.

CNBC reportedThursday that Corbat had moved up his retirement date because of pressure from regulators over the firm’s internal controls and as investors including ValueAct lost patience. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that bank regulators are set to issue a consent order to Citigroup over the bank’s risk management systems.

But details of the pressure the New York-based bank faced from its activist investor hadn’t been reported until now. The lessons from this episode will likely inform how Corbat’s successor Fraser interacts with the bank’s large investors.

ValueAct never called for the removal of Corbat, according to the people with direct knowledge of their interactions. Instead, the firm, led by partner Dylan Haggart, was vocal with the bank’s board and management on the company’s shortcomings, creating tension internally and a situation where the company’s operators knew they were underperforming.

The best analogy for this was the role ValueAct had in prompting Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire after it took a stake in the tech giant in 2013, paving the way for Satya Nadella’s successful tenure, according to one of the people.

ValueAct prides itself on a reputation within the industry for working with management in a transparent way, giving feedback and getting more involved only when necessary. The hedge fund has had a data sharing agreement with the bank since early 2019, giving it access to board members and non-public information.

After CNBC reported last week that investor patience with the bank had worn thin, ValueAct managers were concerned that other CEOs who worked with the activist would get the misimpression that they had explicitly pushed for Corbat’s removal.

Instead, what had happened at Citigroup was out of the standard playbook for the activist investor, which is to get involved with the company’s board and managers to accelerate change and hopefully improve the stock price over time.

Since ValueAct built its stake in 2018, Citigroup has replaced most of its top executives, including Corbat, the firm’s long-time chief financial officer, and several division and regional heads. In particular, ValueAct had a dim view of former CFO John Gerspach and former consumer banking head Stephen Bird, according to one of the people.

The hedge fund seeks to “create accountability, and with that boards tend to be sharper, more on their game,” the person said. “If it works, that extra urgency drives performance. The CEO becomes lauded and everything works out great. If it doesn’t, it helps you arrive at decisions earlier.”

ValueAct spokesman Drew Stroud said in response to the details in this story that the investment firm has “provided our perspectives on strategic priorities, budgeting, and performance expectations” to Citigroup.

He added that they “appreciated our open and constructive dialog with Mike, the entire Citi management team, and the board.”

Citigroup spokeswoman Jennifer Lowney said that the bank had a “constructive relationship” with ValueAct and “they continue to be an important partner. We have benefited from their expertise and value their perspective.”

She added that “as far is Mike is concerned, his decision to retire was entirely his own and he always planned to do so in 2021.”

How Citigroup fell short

Here’s the source of ValueAct’s disappointment in Citigroup: Under Corbat, the bank missed key performance targets for returns and expenses that it had set in that 2017 investor meeting.

At the time, the bank said that it would reach a return on tangible common equity of 11% by 2020. When adjusted for the subsequent Trump tax cuts and the impact of deferred tax assets, investors had expected a return closer to 14%.

In January, Corbat declared that the bank had achieved a 2019 return of 12.1%, just ahead of an adjusted goal of 12% for that year. But analysts immediately questioned if they had indeed met their goals, factoring in one-offs that made the figure closed to 11.6%.

Making matters worse, the bank also said in January that because of lower interest rates and a slowing global economic outlook – factors that all banks were dealing with – Citigroup was walking away from its original return targets, saying they would likely be lower.

Altogether, it was part of a pattern of constantly shifting goalposts and moves that the source had deemed “sleight of hand” that obscured a deeper truth: Just like before 2017, Citigroup was still missing its targets, if only modestly.

“It’s unacceptable to fall short on your own numbers, which are cushioned numbers to begin with, these targets are set to be beaten,” said one of the people with direct knowledge of ValueAct’s thinking. “The fact that they didn’t even hit their sandbag numbers is the disappointment.”

In fact, Citigroup missed a key target for returns a total of ten times since Corbat became CEO in 2012, according to a research note this week from Mike Mayo, the bank analyst with a long history covering the lender.

Underwater investment

The returns measure is a key metric for ValueAct and other bank investors because the broader market assigns a valuation multiple to that figure; an improving ROTCE usually results in a higher stock value.

ValueAct owns about 27 million shares of Citigroup. While the firm typically thinks in terms of a five to seven year horizon, the Citigroup stake hasn’t been a winner so far. The hedge fund is underwater on the investment as of this week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The activist’s information-sharing agreement with Citigroup ends next year, at which point the firm will decide whether to renew it or seek a board seat, said the person.

The overall picture at Citigroup was one of progress that was happening too slowly, and of missed opportunities compared to rivals JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. The fact that investors couldn’t have complete faith in Citigroup’s targets is a key reason that the bank merits the lowest stock valuation of the six biggest U.S. banks.

Perhaps it all goes back to that ill-fated 2017 shareholder meeting, held in a ballroom under the 70-foot vaulted ceilings of a former failed bank. Instead of proving that the bank’s leaders would “be known for doing the things we say we’ll do,” as Corbat said at the time, he is stepping down in February. That will allow him to shut the books on the bank’s regulatory filing for 2020, which was supposed to be the year they closed the performance gap with rivals.

It’s a lesson that can’t be lost on Fraser. When her promotion was announced last week, she had this to say:

“I will do everything I can to make all of our stakeholders proud of our firm as we continue to build a better bank and improve our returns,” Fraser said. “I am excited to join with my colleagues in writing the next chapter.”

With contributions from CNBC’s Nate Rattner.

Donald Trump’s ex-wife takes furious swipe at Melania as she eyes up First Lady role

Ivana Trump spoke out about Melania Trump during an interview on Loose Women. She said the First Lady only “goes to stuff when she has to go” and implied that she would have done a better job.

Ms Trump insisted that she speaks to President Trump and that their relationship is mostly about their shared children.

She has three children with her former husband – Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr.

Speaking on Loose Women, Ms Trump said: “I speak directly to Mr President.

“I don’t get involved with his ex-wives or his private life.”

She implied that had things turned out differently, she could have been a better First Lady for President Trump.

She said: “I really don’t like the politics that much.

“I would do a great job in the White House but I really – it isn’t in my inspiration.”

Ms Trump said she prefers having freedom now but she is proud of her ex-husband for “all he has achieved”.

READ MORE: Donald Trump humiliation as ex-wife SAVAGED for US immigration comment

Ms Trump also said her daughter Ivanka could “definitely” be America’s first female president.

Ms Trump added: “She’s in the White House every day.

“She’s next to her father every day.”

She continued: “She knows all what is going around.”

Ivanka Trump serves as one of her father’s top advisers in the White House.

Ms Trump added: “I think she could be one day the first girl, or woman, president. Definitely.

“She’s smart as hell. She’s beautiful. She’s au courant.

“And how much more can you have?”

Last month, Mr Trump wafted his daughter’s name as a possible future president during an election campaign rally.

Speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire, he said: “They’re all saying ‘we want Ivanka’. I don’t blame them.”



Donald Trump’s ex-wife takes furious swipe at Melania as she eyes up First Lady role

Ivana Trump spoke out about Melania Trump during an interview on Loose Women. She said the First Lady only “goes to stuff when she has to go” and implied that she would have done a better job.

Ms Trump insisted that she speaks to President Trump and that their relationship is mostly about their shared children.

She has three children with her former husband – Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr.

Speaking on Loose Women, Ms Trump said: “I speak directly to Mr President.

“I don’t get involved with his ex-wives or his private life.”

She implied that had things turned out differently, she could have been a better First Lady for President Trump.

She said: “I really don’t like the politics that much.

“I would do a great job in the White House but I really – it isn’t in my inspiration.”

Ms Trump said she prefers having freedom now but she is proud of her ex-husband for “all he has achieved”.

READ MORE: Donald Trump humiliation as ex-wife SAVAGED for US immigration comment

Ms Trump also said her daughter Ivanka could “definitely” be America’s first female president.

Ms Trump added: “She’s in the White House every day.

“She’s next to her father every day.”

She continued: “She knows all what is going around.”

Ivanka Trump serves as one of her father’s top advisers in the White House.

Ms Trump added: “I think she could be one day the first girl, or woman, president. Definitely.

“She’s smart as hell. She’s beautiful. She’s au courant.

“And how much more can you have?”

Last month, Mr Trump wafted his daughter’s name as a possible future president during an election campaign rally.

Speaking to a crowd in New Hampshire, he said: “They’re all saying ‘we want Ivanka’. I don’t blame them.”



Princess Charlotte new title: The huge role Charlotte is destined for when William is king

Anne, 70, is the only daughter of the Queen and Prince Philip.

In celebration of her 70th birthday on August 15, the Royal Family shared some insight into her Princess Royal title.

The Royal Family wrote on their Instagram account: “HRH The Princess Anne was named The Princess Royal, a title traditionally bestowed upon the eldest daughter of The Sovereign, in 1987.

“HRH is the seventh Princess Royal, following Princess Mary, the only daughter of King George V.”



Kate Middleton body language suggests she ditched 'royal wife' role to show individuality

In this role, she will share the same status and social rank as the monarch.

While Kate could be gearing up for a position at the head of the monarchy, Judi claimed she has managed to show her individuality.

The expert explained she has done this by remaining approachable.

“Her pitch-perfect royal smile will convert to outbursts of genuine, fun and laughter, complete with dimpled smiles,” Judi added.



Camilla Duchess of Cornwall 'awkward' body language suggests 'discomfort' in royal role

Camilla’s entry into the Royal Family was not easy as there was still public sentiment against her for her affair with Prince Charles during his marriage to Diana.

In recent years public opinion has turned in Camilla’s favour and she has become increasingly popular.

However, according to Judi, some of the discomfort Camilla may have felt when she first became a Duchess remains.

The expert said: “There are cues here that she had never outgrown that sense of awkwardness, although it is also clear that her passion for her cause and her message provides an override that creates some emphatic gestures and even a subtle sense of leadership.”



Meghan Markle tipped for executive producer role on big Hollywood project

The Duchess of Sussex was previously an actress, rising to stardom in the TV legal drama Suits, and influential agent-producer Jonathan Shalit has claimed Meghan could earn $50million (£37million) if she decided to act again. However, royal commentator Russell Myers claimed Meghan has gone beyond acting now and will want to be pitching ideas and executive producing on big Hollywood projects. In fact, it was reported last week that Meghan and Harry had pitched a TV show that would focus on two issues close to Meghan’s heart: female empowerment and racial inequality.

The TV show, which was pitched to a string of network executives in June, would tackle dscrimination like that faced by Meghan herself, who is biracial.

A TV insider claimed: “They have suggested a series focusing on the empowerment of women and young girls in today’s world.

“It will home in on race issues, something Meghan has always been passionate about.

“It’s got quite a political stance and will draw on feminism. They want the series to continue their vision of empowerment for young people.”

READ MORE: New top civil servant Simon Case ‘alienated Meghan’ in William PR role

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Meghan Markle has been tipped to be an executive producer (Image: GETTY)

meghan markle suits

Meghan starred in the TV legal drama Suits (Image: GETTY)

According to the Daily Mirror, the couple intend on being joint producers on the project.

Sources told the outlet that the couple “will appear in it but it’s about ‘normal’ people, not them”.

Pod Save the Queen is hosted by Ann Gripper and features Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers.

Mr Myers said he thinks we will be seeing more of this behind-the-camera sort of work, rather than Meghan going back in front of the camera.

prince harry meghan markle disney

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Disney’s Lion King premiere last year (Image: GETTY)

He said: “They are going to be doing stuff like this in terms of getting out, pitching projects to Hollywood bigwigs.

“And a lot of people were saying ‘Meghan could be getting in front of the camera again. Will she go back to Suits?’ I mean, Suits has been cancelled now so I don’t know where that came from.

“But it was certainly one of the industry bigwigs, a guy called Jonathon Shalit, who would be quite well known to people in the UK, he’s a big time agent-producer ‒ he was saying that if she does go back to acting she could come into fees of $50million which is massive money.

“So who knows? Maybe she will have to do that.

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oprah winfrey

Prince Harry is working with Oprah on a documentary about mental health (Image: GETTY)

“I don’t think she will because I think she’s now gone beyond that and that she will want to do some level of producing, executive producing on big projects, whether that is with Netflix or Oprah ‒ I mean Oprah has her own production company, so maybe they’ll get to do more shows like Harry’s doing with Oprah and Apple TV.

“So I think that’s the way they’ll end up doing it. But is that going to net you 10 million quid a year? I’m not sure.”

Since the Duke and Duchess stepped down as senior royals, Disney+ aired a documentary entitled ‘Elephant’ for which Meghan did the voiceover.

Now, Prince Harry is starring in a new Netflix documentary entitled Phoenix Rising, which will tell the story of the Paralympic Games.

Ms Gripper noted that Harry, who founded the Invictus Games ‒ a sporting event similar to the Paralympic Games for wounded armed forces personnel and veterans ‒ will be speaking “passionately” about this topic.

He is also collaborating with Oprah Winfrey on a documentary about mental health, which will air on Apple TV.

According to reports, Harry and Meghan hope to make a fortune with their own film and television production company after leaving the Royal Family.

Their plans include providing voiceovers and producing documentaries on worthy issues, such as mental health and climate change.

NBC Universal was among the networks that heard their first pitch.

The couple had a meeting with its top bosses, including chairman of content studios Bonnie Hammer, who has known Meghan since her days on Suits.

Meghan has previously described Ms Hammer as the woman who changed her life, after she cast her in the legal drama.

However, a friend of the Duchess told Variety magazine that Meghan has no intention of acting in any projects.

To subscribe to Pod Save the Queen go to your normal podcast provider.



New top civil servant Simon Case ‘alienated Meghan and Harry’ in Prince William PR role

Mr Case left politics to be Prince William’s Private Secretary in June 2018, shortly after Harry and Meghan’s wedding. He apparently hoped for “a quieter life” after spending a year working as the Director General Northern Ireland and Ireland, the top civil servant working on the post-Brexit Irish border issue. He was responsible for running the day-to-day operations of Kensington Palace and is believed to have greatly helped William and Kate Middleton’s popularity with the public skyrocket.

However, life in the royal realm did not prove to be as quiet as he had hoped, with Meghan and Harry starting to feel unhappy, and reportedly even resentful towards William and Kate.

This problem escalated to the point of a real feud between the brothers, which played out in the press, and pushed Harry and Meghan towards their royal exit.

Royal expert Camilla Tominey said: “Little did he know that the deteriorating relationship between the royal brothers would explode into a constitutional crisis, with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepping down as senior royals two years later.

“Case forged a close partnership with the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young, the most powerful aide at Buckingham Palace, and became instrumental in elevating William’s image as statesman, to the disquiet of Harry, who felt pushed out.”

READ MORE: Prince Harry just THREE weeks away from US residency cut-off

simon case meghan harry

Simon Case managed to alienate Meghan and Harry during his time at Kensington Palace (Image: GETTY)

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Boris Johnson reportedly called Prince William to ask permission to pinch Mr Case (Image: GETTY)

She added in her article for The Spectator that it was on Mr Case’s watch that William and Kate were revealed to have flown by budget airline to Balmoral, after Harry and Meghan had snubbed the Queen to fly by private jet to Elton John’s mansion in Nice.

Indeed, this contrast at the time was striking, and highlighted the major differences between how the Cambridges were handling royal life amid public and press scrutiny and how the Sussexes were.

Ms Tominey went on to say that Mr Case helped modernise the Cambridges’ operation and made them “the Royal Family’s greatest PR weapon”.

However, according to a new book entitled ‘Finding Freedom’ by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, Harry felt he was being “thrown under the bus” by William’s team, who would do anything to make his brother “look good”.

prince william kate middleton

Simon Case was private secretary to Prince William (Image: GETTY)

A source told the authors: “Harry was upset that it was playing out so publicly and that so much of the information being reported was wrong.

“There had been moments where he felt people working with his brother had put things out to make William look good, even if it meant throwing Harry under the bus.”

The authors are likely referring to Mr Case, who was the most senior royal aide to William and is seen as being key to the Duke’s rising popularity.

However, royal commentators have pointed out that it is a royal aide’s job to make their boss look good.

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simon case prince harry meghan

Prince Harry felt like William’s aides were “throwing him under the bus” (Image: GETTY)

Pod Save the Queen is hosted by Ann Gripper and features Daily Mirror royal editor Russel Myers.

Last month, Mirror Online lifestyle editor Zoe Forsey was on the show to discuss Finding Freedom, and said: “One of the more upsetting claims I found was the details of the breakdown really of Harry and William’s relationship ‒ obviously it was quite widely reported, but there was a lot more of it from Harry’s side.

“There was the claim that Harry was worried that lots of William’s staff were actually putting out information, mainly just to make William look good even if it made Harry look quite bad.

“The quote was ‘even if it meant throwing Harry under the bus’ which is quite interesting, saying it was a very confusing time for Harry, his head was all over the place and he basically didn’t know who to believe when these different stories were coming out and the motives behind them.”

Mr Myers replied: “What I would argue is that these comments that William’s team threw Harry under the bus by essentially just talking up their boss… well that’s their job and that’s their role within the machine of the institution.

“I would argue against that I think that Harry’s being very very sensitive and it shows his mindset at the time.

“And certainly the courtiers, whoever they work for, whether it’s Harry and Meghan or Charles or the Queen or William and Kate ‒ that’s their job, they are there to publicise their boss’s roles, their boss’s charities, all their engagements.

“So the main point is that Harry and Meghan didn’t like playing second fiddle and that’s really surprising to me because the very concept of monarchy is a hierarchical structure.”

Nevertheless, Mr Case helped the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge navigate the ‘Megxit’ situation, after the Sussexes announced their decision to step down as senior royals.

He served as William’s right-hand man throughout the tumultuous events of the last two years, steering the ship through his fallout with his brother, Megxit and the release of Finding Freedom, as well as how to act amid other scandals such as the one around Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein.

Mr Tominey claimed that Mr Case’s “experience with the dysfunctional royal household will stand him in good stead” with his new role.

She claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson actually telephoned William to ask his permission to pinch his private secretary to be the new Head of the Home Civil Service.

Mr Case has technically been “seconded” temporarily to the civil service, but he is not expected to return to the Palace.



Kate Middleton body language suggests she will be a 'rule enforcer' in role of Queen

When Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011, she became the Duchess of Cambridge. Along with taking a HRH title, she took on the duties of a full-time working royal.

The royal would share the same social rank and status of the King, although she would not have the same political powers.

Analysing the Duchess of Cambridge over the years, body language expert Judi James commented on how Kate might handle the position.

There are many royal protocols and rules that the mother-of-three has followed over the years.

Judi explained she could ensure these rules are stuck to if her role becomes more senior.

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“Kate’s role has grown slowly and carefully,” the expert told Express.co.uk.

“She appears to be a rule-keeper who could evolve into a rule-enforcer once she is queen.

“She could protect protocol and maybe even act as mediator in the family but without becoming stuffy or unapproachable.”

Since joining the family, the Duchess seems to have grown in confidence.

“As a future Queen, Kate’s style should very much depend on the type of royal people will be hoping for.

“So far Kate has not put a foot wrong in terms of her royal role.

“Her styling and her body language are impeccable and – in a world where royals, like celebrities, are chopped down to size on a regular basis – she appears able to avoid anything other than petty criticism.”