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Ex-Trump aide Bannon tells far-right rally to wear ‘racist’ tag like 'badge of honour'

  • Published at 02:21 pm March 11th, 2018
Ex-Trump aide Bannon tells far-right rally to wear ‘racist’ tag like 'badge of honour'

US President Donald Trump's former adviser Steve Bannon has appeared alongside French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, telling her supporters to wear assertions they are "racist" as a "badge of honour."

To roaring applause, the former White House chief strategist told National Front supporters "history is on our side."

He told the party congress: "Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honour."

Bannon was speaking in Lille as part of a Europe-wide tour. The appearance comes after Le Pen's crushing defeat to independent, pro-globalisation candidate Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential race.

His remarks may have threatened the Front National's efforts to re-brand itself, with Bannon also endorsing Le Pen's more hard-line niece - Marion Marechal-Le Pen.

Bannon’s Europe tour comes after he was dumped by the White House last year and contributed to Michael Wolff's controversial Trump book, Fire And Fury.

Third term as leader

Le Pen is to force through a controversial name change for her National Front party after being re-elected for a third term as leader.

Meeting in the northeastern city of Lille, the 49-year-old was expected to unveil the party's new identity, burying the National Front (FN) name that has been associated with her father Jean-Marie since 1972.

The switch is meant to signal a new beginning for the anti-immigration movement, and a decisive break from the toxic past of Jean-Marie who was finally banished from the party on Sunday.

"Without a name change, we will not be able to forge alliances. And without alliances we will never be able to take power," she said last month as she faced questions from many sceptical members.

She will address the party faithful later after being re-elected as leader with 100% of votes on Sunday morning after standing unopposed but has kept the new name a closely-guarded secret.

The party is expected to keep the word "national" in its new name. "Rassemblement national" (national union) has been mooted as an option.

Name debate

Le Pen's bid to change the party's name does not have unanimous support at the grassroots level and has been heavily criticised by Jean-Marie, who sees it as an attack on his legacy.

The party canvassed 51,000 members last year about the new name proposal and on Saturday it emerged that just 52% had voted in favour among the 30,000 who responded.

That compared with 90% of respondents wanting a referendum on continued EU membership and 98% wanting to cut immigration to France.

Speaking Saturday, FN youth leader Gaetan Dussausaye admitted the party had to "swallow its pride" as "the FN brand is still a block for voters."

The National Front was co-founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen in 1972 and led by him for nearly 40 years until he was replaced by his daughter Marine in 2011.

She attempted to banish him from the party in 2015 after he repeated his belief that the Nazi gas chambers were "a detail of history."

The party voted to strip him of his role as honorary president on Sunday.

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