French presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron boldly announced he would attempt to lure banks, researchers and academics across the English Channel if he is elected in April.

The former investment banker, who founded the centre-left En Marche! movement, made the comments just metres from Number 10 moments after he held a private meeting with Theresa May.

"In my programmes I will have a series of initiatives to get talented people in research and lots of fields working here to come to France," he told the Press Association.

"I was very happy to see that some academics and researchers in the UK because of Brexit are considering coming to France to work."

He added: "I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on... I think that France and the European Union are a very attractive space now so in my programme I will do everything I can to make it attractive and successful."

Macron, 39, is in London to drum-up support from the 300,000 French expats living in the UK capital. The former economy minister will hold an evening rally with around 3,000 supporters at Westminster's Central Hall.

Macron is level-pegging on 19% with former French Prime Minister François Fillon in the opinion polls, according to Ifop-Fiducia. But the survey, of more than 1,300 voters between 17 and 21 February, put the far-right's Marine Le Pen in the lead on 26%.

Number 10 declined to give a read-out of the summit between May and Macron, stressing that the get-together was a private meeting, rather than an official function. The meeting comes around a month before May plans to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and trigger Brexit talks.