France's Le Pen Distances Herself From Bannon, Says Only Europeans Can Save Europe

French far-right leader says she wants to clarify 'lots of conjecture' about Steve Bannon's plan to set up foundation to boost far-right parties

Marine Le Pen (R) applauds former US President advisor Steve Bannon after his speech during the Front National party annual congress in Lille, northern France. March 10, 2018.
AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is distancing herself from former White House strategist Steve Bannon, saying only Europeans will save the continent.

Le Pen said Monday, at a meeting in Rome, that she wanted to clarify "lots of conjecture" about Bannon's reported plans to set up a foundation, The Movement, to boost far-right parties in Europe.

Le Pen said Bannon is not European, but rather an American who wants to create a think tank.

>> Explained: How Steven Bannon's 'The Movement' is uniting the Far Right in Europe

She said: "But we, and we alone, are the ones who will shape the political force that is born from the European elections, 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."

Bannon spoke at a nationalist rally in France in March, 2018. He continued touring Europe, lending his support and political savvy to rising far-right and populist forces across the continent.

Bannon has created The Movement, a bid to unite the parties of the far right in Europe before next year’s European elections. It’s been a long-term dream: in a 2014 interview, he said that “I think you’re seeing a global reaction to centralized government, whether that government is in Beijing or that government is in Washington D.C., or that government is in Brussels.”

The movements Bannon is trying to unite are notoriously fissiparous and undisciplined. The Movement will have limited funds and a maximum of 10 staffers. Immigration, the central issue, is now much reduced. Governing parties of the left and right in Europe have quietly adopted some of the far-right’s demands.