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Britain Backs French Candidate For IMF Boss

Britain’s Chancellor George Osborne has backed France’s finance minister for the top job at the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Osborne said 55-year-old Christine Lagarde was the “outstanding candidate” for the post and “Britain will back her.”

Ms Lagarde – a former synchronised swimmer and lawyer – is one of France’s most popular right wing politicians and is already the bookmaker’s favourite.

The post became vacant after the former head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn , resigned after his arrest in New York for allegedly trying to rape a hotel chambermaid.

Mrs Lagarde is the first female finance minister of an industrialised country.

She has been praised for her role in tackling the European debt crisis and the handling of demands of advanced and developing economies through France’s presidency of the G20 this year.

Before joining the French government in 2005, she headed US law firm Baker & McKenzie in Chicago.

“She’s shown real international leadership as chair of the G20 finance ministers this year,” George Osborne said.

“She has also been a strong advocate for countries tackling high budget deficits and living within their means.

“We support her because she’s the best person for the job, but I also personally think it would be a very good thing to see the first female managing director of the IMF in its 60-year history.”

The IMF – the so-called “bank of last resort” – has been headed by a European since its inception after World War II.

There has been growing pressure from emerging nations like China and Brazil, and from global anti-poverty campaigners, to look further afield.

But the voting system means Europe and the US have an effective veto on any candidate they oppose.

The IMF board says it hopes to have a new chief in place by June 30.

Meanwhile, at home Mrs Lagarde faces a full judicial review over her role in a court case involving controversial French tycoon Bernard Tapie.

In 2003 she intervened in a 15-year legal dispute between Mr Tapie and Credit Lyonnais Bank – he later received a £248m out-of-court settlement.