France announces youngest-ever and first openly gay prime minister Gabriel Attal

President Macron said he hoped the young PM would revive the spirit he created in 2017 when he took to office, as Europe Editor James Mates reports

France has appointed its youngest-ever prime minister, as President Emmanuel Macron seeks a fresh start for the rest of his term amid growing political pressure from the far right.

Gabriel Attal, who is 34, was appointed on Tuesday, Macron’s office announced in a statement.

Mr Attal, who rose to prominence as the government spokesman and education minister, is also France’s first openly gay prime minister.

His predecessor Elisabeth Borne resigned on Monday following recent political turmoil over an immigration law that strengthens the government’s ability to deport foreigners.

Macron, who was France’s youngest-ever president when he came to power in 2017, is to work with Mr Attal to name a new government in the coming days, though some key ministers are expected to continue in their posts.

The 46-year-old president has shifted rightward on security and migration issues since rising to power on a pro-business centrist platform in 2017, notably as far-right rival Marine Le Pen and her anti-immigration, anti-Islam National Rally have gained political influence.

Mr Attal, a former member of the Socialist Party, joined Macron’s newly created political movement in 2016 and was government spokesperson from 2020 to 2022, a job that made him well-known to the French public.

Gabriel Attal (left) has been appointed by French President Emmanuel Macron. Credit: AP

He was then named budget minister before being appointed in July as education minister, one of the most prestigious positions in the French government.

Mr Attal quickly announced a ban on long robes in classrooms which took effect with the new school year in September, saying the garments worn mainly by Muslims were testing secularism in the schools.

He also launched a plan to experiment with uniforms in some public schools, as part of efforts to move the focus away from clothes and reduce school bullying.

Mr Attal recently detailed on national television TF1 how he suffered bullying at school, including homophobic harassment.

French opinion polls show he was the most popular minister in Borne’s government.

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