FirstFT: Macron accuses Le Pen of dependence on Putin


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Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, has accused his far-right rival Marine Le Pen of being beholden to Vladimir Putin and of risking civil war with her plans to curb Islamism.

But in a combative television debate four days before the final vote of the presidential election, Macron was unable to land the same kind of killer blows that sealed Le Pen’s defeat in 2017.

Le Pen, who has her best chance to date of becoming France’s first woman president and its first far-right head of state since the second world war, outlined her plans to drastically reduce “massive, anarchic” immigration, reform the EU and impose law and order.

She also accused the liberal Macron of having a “very bad economic record” and “an even worse social record” as president.

  • Analysis: No knockout blows were landed in the French debate as Le Pen kept her cool, Ben Hall writes.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Gary

The latest from the war in Ukraine

  • Military supplies: Boris Johnson says it is vital that the west continues to supply Kyiv with weapons. A transfer of spare parts facilitated by the US and allied countries gave Ukraine access to 20 extra warplanes.

  • Sport: Wimbledon has banned players from Russia and Belarus from competing at this year’s tennis championships, drawing accusations of discrimination.

  • Economy: The head of the IMF said Ukraine will need $5bn a month for the next three months to plug the hole in its finances left by Russia’s invasion.

  • Sanctions: Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic said the country would not jeopardise national interests by joining western sanctions against Russia.

1. Boris Johnson vows to lead Tories into next election The UK prime minister urged people to focus on “things that matter”, as he prepared to table a “wrecking amendment” today that would defer a House of Commons vote on opening a formal investigation into claims that he deliberately misled parliament over the partygate scandal.

2. Bill Ackman sells entire Netflix stake at roughly $400mn loss The hedge fund billionaire has sold his stake just months after acquiring the position, capping a painful 24 hours for Netflix, which lost close to 40 per cent of its market value after it revealed a decline in subscribers.

3. Foreign investors ditch Chinese debt at record pace Offshore investors sold a record $18bn worth of renminbi-denominated debt last month, with selling accelerating as soaring US bond yields dulled the allure of Chinese debt and concerns mounted over China’s economic growth outlook.

Line chart of 10-year government bond yield (%) showing China’s sovereign yield advantage vanishes as Fed turns hawkish

4. UK schools warn on lack of ‘catch-up’ funding Two-thirds of British primary headteachers said a lack of “catch-up” funding has left pupils struggling to recoup lost learning from the Covid-19 pandemic as schools grapple with the cost of living crisis.

5. Musk confident Tesla can steer past supply chain issues Elon Musk said severe supply chain pressures would put a brake on the electric carmaker’s growth in the current quarter, but he was bullish for 2022 and claimed a new robotaxi would reach production in 2024.

The day ahead

Johnson in India The UK prime minister is expected to avoid the issue of Ukraine as he begins a two-day visit to India, and will instead focus on building bilateral trade and defence links.

Global economy debate Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell and Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, will take part in the IMF’s Debate on the Global Economy, moderated by IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. (IMF)

Register here to attend the FT’s first Crypto and Digital Assets Summit on April 26-27. Be sure to check out the full line-up of events, including remarks from Changpeng Zhao, founder and chief executive of Binance.

What else we’re reading

Welcome to libertarian paradise The island of Sark in the English Channel is independently governed as part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, one of Britain’s three Crown dependencies. It has no income tax, no inheritance tax, no capital gains tax, no VAT and no employment laws of any kind. But is it the Ayn Rand-style haven it’s cracked up to be?

Sunak’s fall from grace is a disaster for the Conservatives The collapse of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s public reputation has been perfectly timed for Boris Johnson, depriving plotters of his most obvious successor. But the loss of their Plan B is a serious blow for the Tories, writes Robert Shrimsley.

What’s the alternative to Russian vodka? Since the invasion of Ukraine, bars and retailers have been delisting Russian brands in protest and, in some cases, theatrically pouring the liquor down the drain. What’s the alternative? Kyiv vodka, of course.

Germany prepares for a Russian gas embargo Shocked by the devastation visited on Ukrainian cities by Moscow’s bombs, the EU has imposed swingeing sanctions on Russian hydrocarbons. But talk of a full-scale embargo on Russian energy is spreading panic in Germany.

Student frustration mounts over UK university disruption After two years of Covid disruption, with the decline of in-person learning and “extortionate” fees, frustrated students in Britain now face fresh strain as their lecturers vote for another round of strike action.

Thank you to readers who took yesterday’s poll — 60 per cent of respondents said they would invest their bonus money.

Travel

This summer, a French travel company plans to take tourists to the North Pole in a new type of icebreaking cruise ship. Jurriaan Teulings joined Le Commandant Charcot’s test run.

Exercising at the onboard gym on Le Commandant Charcot with a view of the North Pole
Le Commandant Charcot has 123 rooms and suites as well as a spa, two restaurants and an onboard gym © Jurriaan Teulings

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