The former EU Brexit negotiator lost his battle against his party Les Republicains’ counterparts, coming third in the primary with 23.93 percent. Mr Barnier was preceded by Eric Ciotti and Valérie Pécresse, respectively with 25.59 and 25 percent.
Xavier Bertrand, who was believed to be the frontrunner for his party’s race, came fourth with 22.36 percent.
The very close race will continue with a second round on Friday between Mr Ciotti and Ms Pécresse.
Tweeting immediately after the results, Mr Bertrand said he will be supporting Ms Pécresse in the second round.
He wrote: “I thank the members of LR who have put their trust in me.
“For the second round I will vote Pécresse.”
Reacting to the primary results, Eurasia Group director Mujtaba Rahman said: “Michel Barnier is out.
“He trashed and compromised his European principles for nothing.
“How sad. Serves him right.”
Mr Barnier had shocked politicians in France and across the EU during his electoral campaign after he proposed a referendum on immigration and the supremacy of the European Court of Justice on French law.
Mr Barnier lamented France’s “big decline” and said President Emmanuel Macron’s leadership style was too arrogant and single-minded to heal divides.
He said: “Immigration is out of control.
“Our security is no longer guaranteed. There is a sense of impunity and insecurity throughout the country.”
He proposed a moratorium on immigration to fix Europe and France’s broken rules on migration, wants soldiers to patrol some communities where police are seen to have lost control and advocates a referendum on restoring military service.
He also dismissed the suggestion he was being drawn onto far-right turf to win back conservative voters from far-right figures Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour.
More to follow…