Depardieu blasts French PM for calling Belgium move pathetic

Ben Southwood
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FRENCH ACTOR Gerard Depardieu yesterday launched a blistering verbal assault on French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault for calling his decision to move to Belgium pathetic.

“Pathetic, you said pathetic? How pathetic is that?” Depardieu wrote in an open letter. “I am leaving because you believe that success, creation, talent, anything different must be sanctioned,” the Cyrano de Bergerac star said. He claimed he had paid a total of €145m in taxes since he started work at 14, as a printer.

Depardieu recently bought a house in the Belgian border village of Nechin, where 27 per cent of residents are French nationals, after President Francois Hollande’s socialist government passed a welter of eye-watering tax increases.

But a succession of political figures have attacked his decision, including Prime Minister Ayrault and Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti, who pointed out that public money is lavished on the French film industry, and labelled the popular and trenchant public figure a deserter.

“When we abandon the ship and desert in the middle of an economic war, then you don’t come back and give morality lessons,” she told a French TV channel.

Despite the tax hikes, wealthy UK citizens are considering moving to France, according to data from Lloyds TSB this morning. Some 22 per cent of millionaires would consider leaving the UK in the next two years, Lloyds said.

And across the whole sample – including people worth over £250,000 – a fifth cited France as the country they would most like to move to. But this was likely down to the weather, the data suggested, with 63 per cent saying poor UK weather was a key reason to move.