UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM HULOT AND FRENCH PM EDOUARD PHILIPPE
By Hajer M'tiri
PARIS (AA) – French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot announced Tuesday he was quitting President Emmanuel Macron's government.
"I am taking the decision to leave the government," the popular former television celebrity said on France Inter radio, adding that he felt "all alone" on environmental issues within the Cabinet.
"I don’t want to give the illusion that my presence in government means that we meet the standards on these issues, so I’m taking the decision to leave the government," said Hulot.
Macron loses a key figure on the left who was pushing the government to prioritize climate-related issues.
The appointment of Hulot came as a surprise when Macron came to office last year as both former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande had previously failed to convince the television star to join their respective governments.
Hulot said on France Inter that he had not informed the president or Prime Minister Edouard Philippe of his decision, fearing that they would convince him to stay.
Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said he "regretted" Hulot’s exit.
"I don’t understand why he is stepping down when we had many successes in the first year that are to his credit," Griveaux told BFM Television.
"He didn’t win all his battles but that’s the way it goes for ministers," Griveaux added. "It’s a blow from which we’ll recover."
Meanwhile, Philippe said he would make "proposals" to replace the resigning minister in the "coming days."
"I will have the opportunity, in the coming days, to make proposals to the President of the Republic … regarding the composition of the government", he told reporters ahead of his speech at the Ambassadors' conference in Paris.
The French premier also thanked Hulot for his "important work" in the government.