Sylvie Goulard, France’s newly appointed defence minister and former MEP, has resigned from Emmanuel Macron’s government amid an investigation into the mis-use of European parliamentary funds in her party.
Ms Goulard, who was appointed by president Mr Macron last month, has asked not to be considered as part of the new government after parliamentary elections delivered a landslide victory for the centrist president’s Republique En Marche and her own MoDem party.
The investigation centres around the mis-use of MoDem’s funds in the hiring of assistants in the European parliament.
Ms Goulard said her resignation was an act of “good faith” as the investigation overshadows her party.
“Defence is a demanding portfolio. The honour of our armies, that of the men and women who serve and put their lives in danger should not be mixed up in controversies that have nothing to do with them”, she said in a statement.
Mr Macron has vowed to clean up French politics, promising a “moralisation bill” that will ban politicians from employing members of their family as staff and disclose all personal interests when in office. It follows on from high-profile French political scandals, including an embezzlement probe into former favourite for the presidency François Fillon.
“The president has undertaken to restore confidence in public office, to reform France and to revive Europe. This reorganisation must take precedence over any personal considerations”, said Ms Goulard.
The German-speaking Ms Goulard served as an MEP in the parliament’s liberal grouping ALDE from 2009 to 2017.
Her resignation will raise questions about the government’s other MoDem ministers. The party is led by François Bayrou, a veteran centrist who is justice minister, while Marielle de Sarnez is European affairs minister.
Edouard Philippe, prime minister, is expected to announce his new government tomorrow.