French MPs kick off over whether they should have to wear ties in Parliament

A joke about going "sans cravates" turned sour.

Jean-Luc Melenchon and Emmanuelle Menard attend the inaugural session of the 15th legislature of the French Fifth Republic at the National Assembly on June 27, 2017 in Paris.Getty Images

A fight has broke out among French MPs – not over differing political views, but the issue of whether or not they should wear ties in the National Assembly.

Left-wing politician Jean Luc Mélénchon's France Insoumise party sparked the row after several male MPs turned to Parliament with nude necks.

It is not compulsory to wear a tie in the National Assembly, but it is frowned upon not to.

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Nevertheless, the politicians defended their decision to go "sans cravates" – comparing themselves to the working class "Sans Culottes" ("without trousers") of 18th century France, many of whom played a key part in the French Revolution.

"We've had the Sans Culottes, now we have the Sans Cravates," Mélénchon said.

But his joke backfired somewhat, with other party members unimpressed.

Leader of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen weighed in, adding: "These people think they're Jean Moulin because they're not wearing ties."

Moulin was a high-profile member of the French Resistance during the Second World War.

A spokesperson for President Emmanuel Macron's La Republique en Marche party said: "Arguing that, 'we're here to represent the French working class so we're not going to wear ties', I think that it's an insult to those people."

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