MICHEL Barnier’s U-turn on immigration and the rise of ‘real’ people in politics were the issues debated by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Stephen Glover asked if Mr Barnier registered ‘une petite contradiction?’

“For three years Mr Barnier was the EU’s chief negotiator as the Government strove to extricate Britain from the suffocating grip of Brussels,” he said. “He was about as flexible as a poker. He patronised us, lectured us, and treated us as a race of sub-Neanderthals.”

He said Barnier was reinventing himself as a centre-Right presidential candidate,

“In his new role he is suddenly sensitive to the concerns of many French people about uncontrolled immigration,” he said. “My worry is that he is saying what he thinks most French people want to hear without really believing it.

“How wonderful if he really accepted that Brussels doesn’t always know best. I suspect, though, that he is only trying to get elected. This supercilious French politician is unlikely ever to grasp why it’s best for countries to be in control of their own borders.”

The Daily Express

Jonathan Saxty asked if Mr Barnier was gearing up to ‘enter the fray and outmanoeuvre [Rassemblement National party leader] Marine Le Pen? ‘

“The timing is notable after a new open letter was published warning of the threat of civil war in the country,” he said.

“According to polling from last year, French support for leaving the EU could be substantial if Brexit is seen to be a success.

“Faced with the prospect of a Le Pen victory, on top of Brexit and the end of the Merkel era in Germany, we may see a more aggressive EU in the months ahead, hoping to hold together its disunited bloc lest others follow the UK to the exit.”

The Independent

Kathy Newman, Channel 4 News presenter, said Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbetter’s move to put herself forward as a Labour candidate in her late sister’s constituency was refreshing.

“For too long, MPs seemed to have lived and breathed politics from the moment they were out of nappies,” she said. “A self-employed fitness professional and former lecturer in physical activity and health, she’d enrich Westminster by being Kim Leadbeater first, the Honourable Member for Batley and Spen second.”

She said the current House of Commons is the most diverse so far, in terms of gender, race and sexuality.

“Leadbeater may not win the Labour candidacy – though she’d be a tough act to beat – and the by-election will be bitterly contested. But if she does succeed in travelling all the way to Westminster, her life’s journey will do her constituents proud. And the rest of us, too.”