French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has tendered his resignation after heading President Emmanuel Macron’s government for three years.
The president swiftly named centre-right mayor, Jean Castex to lead a new team of ministers after a reshuffle.
A reshuffle has been expected for some time, and it is common practice for a French president to replace a prime minister during the five-year term in office known as the “quinquennat”.
The Elysée palace said in a statement that Philippe had “today handed in the government’s resignation to the president of the republic, who accepted it”, adding that he would stay in place until a new government was appointed.
Speculation that Philippe could be on the way out mounted this week after Macron’s centrist party was routed in municipal elections last Sunday and Greens took control of several major cities.
But Philippe, a rightwing politician who never joined Macron’s Republic on the Move party, easily won his bid to become mayor of Le Havre.
Castex, 55, is little known in France, but he is a senior civil servant and has played a key role in the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He has picked up the nickname “Mr Deconfinement”, after Philippe chose the Republicans party mayor from Prades in the Pyrenees to co-ordinate France’s strategy of lifting the lockdown.
He attended the same elite university as Macron and Philippe and, like Philippe, was previously a member of the right-wing Republicans party.