"France first", far right's Marechal-Le Pen says in comeback speech

  • World
  • Friday, 23 Feb 2018

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, niece of right-wing populist French politician Marine Le Pen, speaks during CPAC. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - France should follow U.S. President Donald Trump's lead and fight for "France first", Marion Marechal-Le Pen, seen as a potential leader of France's far right, told U.S conservatives on Thursday in her first public appearance in months.

The 28-year-old former lawmaker, granddaughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of party leader Marine Le Pen, temporarily withdrew from politics after her aunt's presidential election defeat last May.

But she has long been viewed in France as a possible future leader of the National Front, and the fact that she was a keynote speaker at a conference that both Trump and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence were addressing was widely commented on in French media as posing a challenge for Marine Le Pen.

"I'm not offended when I hear President Donald Trump say 'America first'. In fact, I want America first for the American people, I want Britain first for the British people and I want France first for the French people," she said.

"I came here today to tell you there is a youth ready for this fight in Europe today," she told thousands of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

Marechal-Le Pen, who is more socially conservative and economically liberal than her aunt, did not say if or when she was planning to return to an active role in French politics, instead mentioning her plans to open a management and political science school, which she said should train tomorrow's leaders.

But the reception for Marechal-Le Pen, who has been praised by right-wing U.S. media such as Breitbart, was in contrast to her aunt's visit to Trump Tower in New York in January last year, during the French presidential campaign.

Marine Le Pen, who has long aimed to burnish her credentials with foreign appearances, did not meet either Trump or anyone from his team during that visit and was photographed having coffee in a public area of the building.

While Le Pen has over the past months softened her anti-EU, anti-euro comments, Marechal-Le Pen lambasted the bloc, which she said was "slowly killing" ancient nations.

Blaming immigration and political correctness, she said in a speech delivered in English: "France is in the process of passing the eldest daughter of the Catholic church to the little niece of Islam."

Marine Le Pen is hoping that a National Front congress mid-March will help her reassert her authority.

But in the complicated Le Pen family, whose rows have made French headlines for years, another possible problem for her is her father, who she expelled from the party but who said he would gate-crash the congress.

Meanwhile her niece told the activists: "Let us build on what you have achieved here so that on both sides of the Atlantic, conservatism may prevail."

(Writing by Ingrid Melander in Paris; Editing by Alison Williams)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In World

No toxic fallout from German chemical blast, official says
FBI probe shows amount of chemicals in Beirut blast was a fraction of original shipment
Taliban fighters enter provincial capital, clash with Afghan forces
Belarus leader would 'not hesitate' to invite Russian troops if needed
Hungarian election panel clears questions of LGBT referendum
Olympics-EU envoys back Frenchman on hunger strike over Japan child custody
Lebanon president ready to answer questions on Beirut blast
Myanmar militia hunts for bodies after clash with army - media
Libya's combatants declare key coast road open
'David vs Goliath' - Venice ban may not end cruise ship battle

Stories You'll Enjoy