Former Trump adviser addresses Front National as Marine Le Pen attempts to relaunch her party
Donald Trumps former adviser Steve Bannon has told Frances far-right Front National that, history is on our side and will bring us victory in an address to the partys conference.
Announced as a surprise speaker at the event, Bannon said: You are part of a movement that is bigger than that in Italy, bigger than in Poland, bigger than in Hungary.
As Bannon entered the hall to cheers and applause, the US flag was unfurled above the stage.
Although no longer a White House staffer, Bannon, who has been doing a tour of European cities including Zurich, Milan and Rome, praised his former boss.
Our dear President Trump said: Weve had enough of globalists, he told FN members.
Todays politics cannot be summed up by the left-right divide. During the 2008 financial crisis, the governments and banks looked after themselves above all, they saved themselves and not the people.
Bannon said Trump had three main concerns: stopping massive immigration; persuading manufacturers who had left for China to return to the US; and pulling the US out of the quagmire conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You recall the evening of the American election, the traditional medias were shocked. They could never have believed that the Americans had finally voted in their own interests.
You fight for your country and they call you racist. But the days when those kind of insults work is over. The establishment media are the dogs of the system. Every day, we become stronger and they become weaker. Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.
Bannon ended his discourse with: God bless America and vive la France.
At the two-day conference in the northern city of Lille, FN president Marine Le Pens is attempting to re-found her rightwing party, announcing a change of name to be revealed on Sunday and validated by a members vote to show the FN has come of age, shaken off its controversial past and is ready to govern.
Le Pen is also trying to reassert her personal and political authority after a drop in popularity following her crushing defeat by Emmanuel Macron in last years presidential election. Many in the party blame Le Pen for her chaotic and bizarre performance in a pre-final vote debate with Macron.
Le Pen is under investigation on claims she misused European Union staff for FN business, and facing defiance from her estranged father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the FN in the 1970s, but who has since been thrown out of the party for xenophobic and racist comments. He was stripped of his honorary president role in a change of rules at Saturdays congress.
Marine Le Pen also faces a possible future challenge from her niece, Marion Marechal Le Pen, who announced she was temporarily withdrawing from politics after the 2017 presidential election but is seen to be waiting in the wings.
Critics suggested inviting Bannon was hardly a sign of political maturity.
Jean-Marie Le Pen said: Its the big bosss surprise. I think Bannons OK but its not exactly the definition of de-demonising [the party] and its a bit of a paradox given that Steve Bannon was supposed to be Trumps most radical adviser, he said. But who knows. She [Marine] may end up coming round to my way of thinking.
Marine Le Pen said Bannon was interesting to listen to for those who are fighting against anything goes in their country.
FN spokesman Sbastien Chenu said Bannon symbolised voters rejection of the establishment.
He has also been the architect of a victory, that of Donald Trump, on whom nobody would have bet, particularly European media and politicians. So he can explain how victory is possible and how to bring it about. I find its always interesting to hear from someone who has won an election.
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