A major shakeup of France's Socialist government appeared imminent following the resignation of Michel Jobert, the foreign trade minister. Mr. Jobert, who also served in Gaullist administrations, was the first senior Cabinet member to leave since President Francois Mitterrand formed his government in June 1981. Remarks by French Finance Minister Jacques Delors and a round of meetings at the Elysee Palace here indicated that Mr. Mitterrand was close to ordering the long-awaited reshuffle, which could include a replacement of Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy. The new Cabinet is expected to be announced along with a package of austerity measures aimed at curbing demand for imports and dampening inflation without driving unemployment up.
Jobert said he never was entrusted with powers to ensure a coherent policy. His announcement came as West European finance ministers in Brussels ended their first two days of crisis talks on West Europe's fixed exchange-rate system. The French government, trying to avoid a third devaluation of its embattled franc, threatened to withdraw if there was no agreement to reshuffle the values of other currencies. West European official foreign-exchange markets were to close today to avoid any runs on the currencies as finance ministers resumed their talks.