The French government is preparing to suspend fuel tax increases after weeks of sometimes violent protests, a government source said on Tuesday, in what would mark a major U-turn by President Emmanuel Macron after 18 months in office.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was due to announce the suspension later on Tuesday, the source said, although it was unclear whether he would announce a time-limited “moratorium” or abandon the next carbon-tax increase entirely.

The so-called “yellow vest” movement, which started on Nov. 17 as a social-media-organised protest group named for the high-visibility jackets all motorists in France must have in their cars, has focussed on denouncing a squeeze on household spending brought about by Macron’s taxes on fuel.

The president says the taxes are needed to combat climate change. Ditching them could be a major embarrassment as governments meet in Poland to try to pin down measures to avert the most damaging consequences of global warming.

However, over the past three weeks the protests have evolved into a wider anti-Macron uprising, with many criticising the president for pursuing policies they say favour the rich and do nothing to help the working poor.

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By Ian Dei

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