Tory moderniser gets his man as Emmanuel Macron gives a thumbs up
George Freeman has managed to get the French president backing his ‘Big Tent’ rally.
How they laughed when ambitious political types talked about being mates with Emmanuel Macron last year.
After Sadiq Khan, George Osborne and George Freeman all got in on the act, a certain former Labour leader was among those sniping from the sidelines. "I guess @EmmanuelMacron has many friends. I also met him once," scoffed Ed Miliband.
But the naysayers may not be laughing at Freeman now.
Having spent part of last year tweeting repeatedly about “my friend” Macron, this weekend the Conservative MP came good on his claims – with an effusive letter of support from the French president for his ‘Big Tent’ rally.
The Big Tent Ideas Festival is taking place in Cambridge next month and pormises to blend together "the popular literary festival format with the big challenges of contemporary politics". It is being co-hosted by Baroness Sally Morgan, a former No 10 aide to Tony Blair, with organisers hoping it will launch "a movement of change, reform, opportunity, empowerment, responsibility and a renewed sense of active citizenship".
While the French president politely declined Freeman’s invitation to the event, he said he agreed with what the centrist, Remain-supporting Tory MP was up to.
"I am convinced that this forum will contribute fully to the reflection on the issues we are jointly facing,” he wrote to Freeman, who used to be Theresa May’s policy chief in Number 10 and is descended from the Liberal prime minister William Gladstone.
The letter is a clear coup for free-thinking Freeman as he continues in his so far fruitless quest to get the Tories signed up to ambitious reforms that could help the party to reconnect with younger voters.
But naturally the modernising MP's elation was soon tempered by “mischievous” coverage of his letter in the Daily Mail...