Eric Zemmour leads French Eurosceptic vote as far-right provocateur weighs in on Poland-EU feud

Mr. Zemmour was not the only one to seek, via the Polish judgment, to tap into latent Euroscepticism in a country which voted no to the European constitutional treaty in 2005.

Potential right-wing rivals leaped into the breach with Xavier Bertrand proposing a “mechanism to safeguard France’s best interests” that would take precedence over EU law. Even former EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier called for French “judicial sovereignty” – if only for immigration.

In an almost identical reaction to the Polish decision, Ms. Le Pen said on Friday that she wanted the primacy of French law “enshrined in the constitution”. However, their call put both hardliners in a tight spot.

No plan for a ‘Frexit’

The leader of the National Rally, who has made it clear that she has no intention of leaving the EU or the euro if elected, said France would not need to withdraw from the treaties of the EU to achieve this, as it could simply leave EU laws deemed to be contrary. to the French constitution “not applied”.

Mr Zemmour – who has often sang the praises of Brexit – has also indicated that he will not leave the euro or the EU for now. “We want to be economically credible. This excludes escapades like leaving the euro or the Union, ”a member of his working group told Challenges magazine.

Feeling an Achilles heel, the outspokenness of the French Minister for Europe, Clément Beaune, tweeted: “To assume: it means to leave the European Union and the euro. The sail is torn [the mask is slipping]: #Frexit.

It remains to be seen how this particular debate will unfold with Mr Macron, the self-proclaimed champion of European integration.

For now, Mr. Zemmour, who has not yet declared his candidacy, will not be drawn and is content to travel around France to discuss his latest book, France has not said its last word.

Sold 165,000 copies in three weeks, his essay paints a catastrophic portrait of a country on the brink of civil war where “no small village in France is safe from a savage outing by bands of Chechens or Kosovars, North Africans or Africans who steam, rape, pillage, torture and kill.

Ms Le Pen began by feigning disinterest in dismissing this week’s poll as offering “insufficient credibility” given the remoteness of the election and calling on “Eric” to throw his hat in. the ring.

“It’s a question of political honesty”

“We can not debate with someone who is not yet a candidate,” she said at a cattle fair in Clermont-Ferrand. “It’s a question of loyalty to the French, of political honesty.”

She privately dismissed him as an unelected provocateur. However, her collaborators and allies are much less optimistic, with many saying that in seeking to attract a larger electorate, she has fatally watered down the Le Pen brand.

“Of course, this latest poll was a huge surprise. I was the first to say that demonize [the Front National] was a rant, ”said far-right MEP Gilbert Collard. “Ideally, there will be an agreement between Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour before the first [presidential] tower.”

However, as things are going, Mr Zemmour – if he does show up – may not need his support.

“Slow poison”

For Frédéric Dabi of the pollster Ifop, Ms. Le Pen is now “relatively weakened” by Mr. Zemmour whom he described as “slow poison which infiltrates part of the electorate of the National Rally who already had doubts about the RN candidate after her [disastrous] second round campaign in 2017 ”.

Crying for her, the far-right rival of Ms. Le Pen has already received encouragement from her niece Marion Maréchal who appeared alongside Mr. Zemmour at a “demographic” summit in Budapest with their “friend” , the illiberal Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, last month.

Meanwhile, Ms Le Pen’s flamboyant father, Jean-Marie, whom she ousted due to his outbursts of denial, has said he could vote for Mr Zemmour – with whom he likes to chat in his “chateau” “de Montretout, outside of Paris – if he was in the best position to beat Mr. Macron.

On the way to London

He is said to have obtained the support of former RN executives and figures from the traditionalist Catholic movement Sens Commun, which organized rallies against same-sex marriage and supported conservative François Fillon in 2017 before withdrawing from the race in disgrace because of ‘a bogus jobs scandal.

Next month he will come to London in search of support.

“Eric Zemmour appears as a man who is not from the establishment, does not belong to any political class and symbolizes quite well degagism [the French urge to throw out the old order]», Declared the political scientist Pascal Perrineau.

“It could run out of steam but for now, what a turnaround in two weeks.”

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