After a short trip to Ibiza, French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer is experiencing a different kind of hangover.
Online investigative outlet Mediapart revealed Monday that Blanquer was on the Balearic island on January 1, when he laid out in a phone interview with Le Parisien his long-awaited pandemic plan for back-to-school day.
Blanquer was advised against going to the party-loving island by senior government staff, POLITICO’s Playbook Paris reported Tuesday, including by Prime Minister Jean Castex’s chief of staff.
The minister “was working remotely with his team,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Tuesday morning — involuntarily promoting Spain’s proposed visa for digital nomads. “Whether he was remote or not doesn’t change anything,” a spokesperson for the education minister told AFP, adding that he was on the island “for four days in a private capacity.”
The new revelations fan the flames started by an already controversial interview. It was published behind a paywall at 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 2, leaving only hours for teachers and parents to adapt to the newest sanitary protocols. The plan itself, which required repetitive testing and led to scenes of parents and children queuing for hours in front of pharmacies and labs, was quickly set aside for a less burdensome one.
Confusion and anger among school staff brought on the biggest teachers’ strike in recent years last week. Another strike day is planned this Thursday.
“Instead of preparing a back-to-school day under COVID with parents and teachers, the minister was mounting a media stunt with his feet in the sand. This level of contempt and irresponsibility is not acceptable,” tweeted Green presidential candidate Yannick Jadot, who already called for Blanquer’s resignation last week.
Defending Blanquer on BFMTV, majority MP Bruno Bonnell said, “Ibiza is closer to Paris than Epinal, Gap or other remote corners of France.”
Blanquer will face French MPs on Tuesday afternoon for the weekly session of government questions at the National Assembly.
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