Key Macron ally says he is quitting French government

Modem, a small, centrist party, brought key support to Macron in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Macron hopes to complete a partial reshuffle of his month-old government later Wednesday following a parliamentary election at the weekend that gave him and MoDem a commanding majority.

Defence minister Sylvie Goulard, the most prominent woman in the cabinet Mr Macron named just over a month ago, suggested in a statement she chose to quit the government to avoid hurting Mr Macron's efforts to clean up corruption.

MoDem leader Francois Bayrou was a key backer of Macron s movement during the presidential campaign, and his support was crucial in lending legitimacy to a candidate who had never before stood for elected office. He's one of four ministers who have announced this week they're leaving the government.

As Macron and Philippe are reshuffling the government to take into account the election outcome, Goulard's resignation is the second in two days.

Businesswoman Florence Parly, who previously worked in a Socialist government and for major French transport companies, was named defense minister.

Paris: France's main conservative party splintered and ministers from a centrist grouping quit the government on Wednesday, as aftershocks from a seismic shift engineered by President Emmanuel Macron rippled across the political landscape.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said on radio Europe 1 that Bayrou's decision was a "personal choice" and that he "wants to be able to defend himself in that case".

Defence Minister and ex-MEP Sylvie Goulard was the first MoDem minister to step down on Tuesday.

On Monday, the president asked close ally Richard Ferrand, who is embroiled in a conflict-of-interest scandal, to leave the cabinet and instead seek the leadership of REM's parliamentary group. He denies doing anything illegal, but acknowledges some old habits are no longer accepted by the public.

Bayrou's resignation comes a day after his fellow party member, Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard, stepped down, citing the investigation as the reason. His European Affairs Minister, Marielle de Sarnez, is said to be the next in line.

Conservative party The Republicans had on Tuesday called for Bayrou and de Sarnez to quit over the investigation into MoDem.

Mr Macron has already announced details of his bill to clean up politics, which involves stopping politicians hiring members of their own family, a ban of up to 10 years for MPs and senators convicted of corruption or fraud, and reform of party financing.

  • Leroy Wright