Fillon fights on.
Speaking slowly and clearly for 20 minutes to 200 journalists (50 from overseas), Fillon took 25 minutes’ questions. He said that for 35 years his ethics had been ‘irreproachable’. He had at all times wholly ‘respected the law’. Fillon gave details of his wife’s net monthly salary and her rôle, saying the employment of his wife and children had always been totally legal. His 4 hour interview, and his wife’s 5 hour interview, with the police had explained all. He promised to put on the web this evening all the details of his wife’s various contracts. His bank accounts were above board. His consultancies were all explained.The values of his properties were given, explaining why his total ‘wealth’ did not exceed the level which required him to pay the Wealth Tax.
Several journalists’ questions as to whether he would repay any monies to the State regarding the employment of family members. Reply: nothing to be repaid – all employment contracts were wholly legal.
Explaining (?) away Madame Penelope’s statement ‘I have never been his assistant’, Fillon said his wife had been his ‘work companion’ and ‘collaborator’.
His sole mea culpa was that he ‘profoundly regretted’ his mistake – and for this he presented his ‘apologies’ to the French people – for not having understood sufficiently quickly that it had become unacceptable for MPs to employ the members of their family.
He referred several times to a ‘lynching’ and a ‘political assassination’. This had been organised, he said, by those who would benefit from the Right losing the Election.
Referring to the possibility of a Républicains Plan B, he described that as a Plan Bérézina ‘(ie disaster).
From this evening, he said, a new campaign starts: ‘I am the candidate’.
So it’s evident I know next-to-nothing. Fillon was calm, steady, relaxed, convincing, clear(ish) and serious during the press conference. But I keep wondering. Will those nearly 70% of the French who (this weekend) had said they wanted Fillon to withdraw his candidature change their position now? I’m not at all sure. Will they swallow eg the payment of €3000 net/month to his non-qualified children?
And the Damocletian Sword of the enquiry is still over his head. If charged, Fillon has said he will stand down.