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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bye bye Bruno - French interior minister quits amid “fake jobs” scandal

Well, well. Who would have believed it?

French politics delivers yet another dose of déjà-vu.

After little more than just over three months since taking office, France’s interior minister, Bruno Le Roux, has resigned.





Bruno Le Roux (screenshot)


And the reason? Employing family members as parliamentary assistants.

And not just any old family members - in fact far from being “old”. Rather his two daughters when they were still teenagers and at school, and later as university students.

“Of course, I employed my daughters during the summer or school holidays,” Le Roux admitted to Yann Barthès’ daily TV satirical programme on TMC “Quotidien” which broke the story on Monday.

“But never permanently.”

It was a defence he repeated when announcing his resignation on Tuesday.

Oh well, that’s all right then. Temporary contracts for a total of around €55,000. Not bad “pocket money”.

Does Le Roux’s story sound familiar?

French politicians taking advantage of a system which allows them to employ family members at the expense of the tax payer.

Um - think François Fillon and “Penelope gate”; the former prime minister and current presidential candidate for the rightwing Les Républicains, who apparently “employed” his wife, Penelope and children over a number of years for the modest sum of €800,000.

The inverted commas are required because Fillon is currently under investigation for “possible abuse of public funds” or in other words “employing his wife (and children) for potentially non-existent work”.

“Conspiracy”, “witch hunt” and “political assassination” are the terms that have been used by Fillon and his supporters over the timing of the revelations and the speed with which prosecutors have proceeded with their investigations.

But no such claims yet from Le Roux - who resigned within a day of the allegations being made public.

There again, he didn’t have much choice. As minister of the interior he would have been in the indefensible position of potentially having access to information relevant to the inquiry.

The problem in both cases is that neither man sees himself as having done anything illegal because employing family members as parliamentary assistants is…well, not illegal.

But what about the morality?

Oh yes...it's politics. How silly to think otherwise.

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