Macron names Castex as new French prime minister

Emmanuel Macron has named Jean Castex as his new prime minister .

Mr Castex, who was appointed in April by Mr Macron to organise France’s exit from its coronavirus lockdown, is expected to have a lower political profile than his predecessor, the increasingly popular Edouard Philippe, who helped the president implement his ambitious economic reform programme after his election in 2017.

Mr Philippe handed over what he called the “heavy burden” of the premiership to Mr Castex at a ceremony at the prime minister’s office in the Hôtel de Matignon on Friday evening. In his slight southern twang, Mr Castex said the coronavirus pandemic was not finished while the economic and social crisis it had provoked was just beginning.

“We must more than ever unite the nation to combat this crisis that is under way,” he said. 

One senior French official described the 55-year-old Mr Castex as the ideal “Macronian” choice, because he was both a respected high-level civil servant with government experience and an elected centre-right mayor of the small town of Prades in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

“He knows the arcane workings of Paris, but is also rooted locally in the countryside,” the official said. “He’s someone who comes from the right, but is a ‘social Gaullist’.” The departing Mr Philippe is also from the centre-right of French politics.

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