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Arnaud Montebourg: the maverick minister who sparked French crisis

High-profile economy minister's latest public criticisms of government's austerity policies was final straw for PM Manuel Valls

The surprising thing about Arnaud Montebourg's departure from the French government after he criticised the cabinet's economic austerity policies is that the controversial economy minister survived for so long.

The 51-year-old has been a thorn in the side of François Hollande ever since the Socialist president was elected in May 2012. In Montebourg's first incarnation as industrial recovery minister, the proud initiator of a "Made in France" campaign was never short of a controversial soundbite. He told the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal in November 2012 that "we no longer want Mittal in France" amid high stakes negotiations aimed at keeping blast furnaces at Florange afloat.

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