Bannon to French far-right party: 'Let them call you racists'

  • Bannon to French far-right party: 'Let them call you racists'

Bannon to French far-right party: 'Let them call you racists'

Steve Bannon, since getting knocked from his perch atop the populist movement propelling President Donald Trump that he claims to have architected, has packed up and taken his bluster to Europe.

"Since last Sunday, there really is the impression that the victory of the League gave new confidence, new hope to Marine Le Pen and other leaders who see a favorable historic tendency", Camus said, citing Britain's Brexit vote and Donald Trump's presidential victory in the United States as similar guideposts.

Bannon, an American nationalist who ran the right-wing Breitbart News, was among Trump's closest aides during the 2016 USA election campaign, the presidential transition and his first months in office.

Since taking over the National Front's presidency in 2011, Le Pen has worked to broaden the party's appeal by erasing the footprint of her father, who has multiple convictions for racism and anti-Semitism. But he was forced out of the White House last August.

Bannon has already spoken in Zurich, Switzerland at an event organized by a conservative publication, and on Saturday headlined the annual conference for France's National Front. Less than a year ago, National Front leader Marine Le Pen came in second in France's presidential election against current leader Emmanuel Macron, capturing a record one-third of the vote. That figure presents a striking contrast with the 34 percent of the popular vote that Le Pen won in the presidential election, and her party can not be labeled the opposition.

Marine Le Pen, France's far-right National Front (FN) political party leader, speaks during a rally in Laon, France, February 18, 2018.

The congress would mark a significant break with Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972 and has called a name change a "betrayal".

The bombshell was announced by the partner of Marine Le Pen and Front National politician, Louis Aliot on Twitter Friday.

An election next year for members of the European Union's lawmaking arm will be the National Front's first chance to test its rebranding strategy. Last week, he published the first volume of his memoirs, "Son of the Nation", which feature an empathic defense of Philippe Pétain, the leader of France's Vichy government, a body that willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany during the war.

The 49-year-old mother of three told French radio recently she would gladly step aside before the 2022 presidential election if another candidate was "better placed to unite people and help our ideas triumph".

The party is set to strip 89-year-old Jean-Marie Le Pen of his role as honorary president, severing his last formal link to the movement he led for almost four decades.

Bannon had some advice for those who might be embarrassed by such a history.

"Let them call you racists", Bannon told the anti-immigrant party's audience on Saturday in France, as The Washington Post reported. Let them call you nativist. "Wear it as a badge of honour because every day we get stronger and they get weaker".

In French media, Jean-Marie Le Pen - noting that Bannon was widely perceived as the "most radical" of Trump's advisers - cast doubt on the value of his daughter's American guest.