France's ruling UMP conservative group has tentatively backed the GDF-Suez merger plan after a debate in the National Assembly.

Bernard Accoyer, the head of the UMP grouping in parliament, told the media on July 26 that ‘there is no plan B’ for GDF. This came after a rival plan was hatched that would see only part of GDF merged with Suez in a bid to overcome considerable political opposition to the full-scale tie-up.

While Mr Accoyer went on to claim that the UMP leader, interior minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy also backed the deal, media speculation suggests this may not be the whole story. It is speculated that Mr Sarkozy is fearful of a backlash against him if the takeover costs French jobs or there are increases in utility prices.

Much of the opposition centers on the need to privatize GDF before it can merge with Suez, only a year after the government pledged that its majority holding in the gas company was not in doubt.