The leader of the French National Rally, Marine Le Pen, on Monday distanced herself from the campaign support offered by US President Donald Trump's former advisor.
Steve Bannon, the former chief adviser to Trump, wants to influence the European elections next year with an office in Brussels and an alliance of various conservative groupings.
Bannon is not a European, Le Pen explained in the presence of Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a conference in Rome. Salvini, also the Italian Deputy Premier and the leader of the Euroskeptic League party, said he shared the same idea of Europe as Marine Le Pen.
“We share the same idea of Europe, of agriculture, of work, of the fight against immigration”, Salvini said during a congress of labor union UGL on ‘Economic growth and social perspectives in a Europe of Nations’ attended by the French politician.
Le Pen said she wanted to clarify “a series of conjectures” about Bannon’s plans to set up a network ahead of elections to the European parliament in May 2019. She added: “So that things are extremely clear on this subject.”
“Mr Bannon is not from any European country, he is American,” Le Pen explained. “His movement will offer studies, surveys and analysis … but the political force behind the EU elections is only us and us alone.”
Salvini applauded the French opposition leader during her remarks when she said: “Because we are attached to our liberty, attached to our sovereignty and we together, the representatives of the different peoples of Europe, are the ones who will shape the political forces that aim specifically to save Europe.”
Their refusal to cooperate with Bannon, was reported by the news agency Associated Press. Le Pen told the labour congress that the “EU has trampled on the values of solidarity: we are now at an historic moment”.
Bannon had delivered a speech in March at the National Front. In June, the Front National renamed itself as the Rassemblement National or National Rally.
Last month, Bannon appeared at a rally in Rome where he praised Italy’s coalition government as well as Salvini, but he did not appear with Salvini in public.
“Italy is now the center of the political universe, Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini are subversives, I came here to tell you that you are not alone, yours is the most important experiment,” Bannon told the meeting in Rome at the time.
Jérôme Rivière, the spokesperson for the National Rally, told Politico magazine earlier: “We reject any supranational entity and will not participate in an organisation with Bannon.” Bannon responded in an interview with the Swiss magazine Weltwoche: “Rivière will see to it that Politico corrects this, because he never said that.”
Politico has not published the “correction” that Bannon has demanded yet.
In other remarks, Le Pen said the European member states “needs a policy of total clarity and firmness with regard to immigration, and each country must control its borders; we must introduce a dissuasive immigration policy”.
She said: “Most men want to stay in their own country, grow up, raise their children and preserve their culture.”
Le Pen attacked the notion of globalism. “Massive immigration, lower wages, unfair international competition, a threat to food security: all this is called globalism.
“Globalism is the idea that we must erase the protections of peoples for the benefit of a small number.” She said the European Union was built to strengthen the powers of a global superclass and its financial structure, and “not for the good of the people” in its current form.
“We must give back their power to the people, it is the very foundation of democracy.
“There is no inevitability, there are political choices: those of Juncker and the PPE/PSE alliance! We are fighting against this alliance which makes the European Union a totalitarian system, to save the true Europe.
“There is the need for alternation in the direction of Europe, and this common struggle for a Europe of dignity, we will lead with Matteo Salvini.” She added that “all the peoples of Europe were opening their eyes”.
Salvini and Le Pen said that the EU elections would result in the return of “common sense” as conservative parties rally to restore values, pride and dignity for ordinary voters.
They described Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, and Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, as the “enemies of Europe”, saying their policies had weakened the EU.
According to Salvini, the EU administration are the “enemies of the happiness of Europeans, barricaded in their bunkers in Europe”.