>> A definitive naught to joining France's presidential race, former Premier Alain Juppe dashing the hopes of many of his conservative party colleagues on Monday. Their current candidate Francois Fillon mired in scandal and staring at defeat in May. Juppe calling him obstinate for plowing on with his bid.>>
>> But offering no way out. Only the view that our country is sick and Fillon's campaign is a waste. Juppe's reasons for declining to come to the rescue, it has become harder than ever to unite the Republican party and voters want fresh faces. Opinion polls suggest Fillon will be knocked out in the first round.
Leaving the favorite, Centrist Emmanuel Macron, to beat the far right's Marine Le Pen in the second. They also show Juppe would have sailed into that run off. Fillon is accused of paying his wife a fat, publicly funded salary for little or no work. He has denied that and stood firm even since learning last week the team may be formally investigated for misuse of state funds.
Senior Republicans now due to meet late Monday for crisis talks.