LONDON • With Britain paralysed by an obsessive domestic debate about its membership of the European Union and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel approaching the end of her long political career, fate has given France’s President Emmanuel Macron the opportunity to become Europe’s leader.

French presidents are not known for their modesty, and Mr Macron is certainly jumping at this historic opportunity. In a recent speech to French ambassadors from around the world summoned to Paris to get their policy instructions, President Macron spoke of the spirit and the “vocation of France” which, he claimed, are a precise match to Europe’s “needs of the time”.

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