President Emmanuel Macron with Gerard Collomb. AFP

France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced on Tuesday that he would stand down after next year’s European Parliament elections.

Collomb, one of President Emmanuel Macron’s most loyal ministers and a heavyweight in his cabinet, told news magazine L’Express that he would quit the ministry to run for his old job as mayor of Lyon in eastern France in 2020.

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The announcement comes just three weeks after Macron’s popular environment minister Nicolas Hulot quit and as the president’s approval ratings have plummeted.

“The local elections are still far away — I will run in Lyon if I don’t get diagnosed as seriously ill anytime before that,” Collomb joked.

“I won’t be interior minister right up until the last moment. After a certain amount of time it would be better to be totally free for the campaign.

“I think ministers who want to run in the 2020 local elections should be able to quit the government after the European fight,” he said of the May 2019 European Parliament vote,” he said.

Collomb, 71, previously served as Lyon mayor for 16 years until Macron poached him for the interior ministry, and it has long been rumoured that he was eyeing a fourth term running the city.