The French government stands accused of forcing two junior ministers to quit to divert attention from a row threatening a third higher-profile colleague.
Alain Joyandet and Christian Blanc, each embroiled in separate spending scandals, resigned after it was made clear they would be axed in a reshuffle.
It is claimed they have had to fall on their swords to shield embattled Labour Minister Eric Woerth.
“This is about saving Soldier Woerth,” said Marine Le Pen, Vice President of the far-right National Front.
“It is obvious, the French people all get it. You sacrifice two junior ministers in the hope of saving Mr Woerth over whose head hangs much more serious suspicions.”
But it is far from clear whether the double departures will ease pressure on the minister.
Damaging disclosures about the Woerth family’s connections with France’s richest woman Liliane Bettencourt have piled pressure on Nicolas
Sarkozy’s government. It comes as the L’Oreal heiress’ tax affairs fall under increasing scrutiny.
Two ministers quit embattled French government