Le Pen’s party leader pledges to halt France’s ‘erasure from EU’

Jordan Bardella is one of France's most popular politicians
Jordan Bardella is one of France's most popular politicians - Shutterstock/Alain Robert

The European Parliament elections will be a referendum on whether to allow in floods of migrants, the leader of France’s hard-Right National Rally has said.

Speaking to a crowd of 8,000 in Marseille on Sunday at the party’s first campaign rally ahead of the elections, which it is widely expected to win, Jordan Bardella said victory would put a stop to France’s “erasure” from Europe and would mark “day one” of political regime change in France. Emmanuel Macron still has another three years in power.

“It is quite clear that these European elections… represent a referendum against migratory submersion,” said Mr Bardella, 28, to cheers from supporters waving French flags.

Taking aim at the EU’s Migration Pact, Mr Bardella said it proved that Brussels promoted “militant immigrationism”.

“To put it clearly in Macron’s Europe, immigration isn’t the problem, it’s the project,” he said.

Mr Bardella pointed out that on his party’s list of candidates is Fabrice Leggeri, the former chief of EU border agency Frontex, who he said had “joined the National Rally because he refused to let himself be pushed around” by Brussels.

National Rally is seeking to capitalise on anger among French farmers
National Rally is seeking to capitalise on anger among French farmers - Bloomberg/Nathan Laine

Mr Bardella is one of France’s most popular politicians and his party is credited with 28 to 30 per cent support in polls ahead of the June vote. Mr Macron’s alliance, by contrast, regularly polls below 20 per cent.

The National Rally leader also sought to capitalise on anger among French farmers, who last month blockaded Paris and gave Mr Macron a hostile reception at the capital’s Farm Fair – despite gaining concessions over pay and environmental regulation – while welcoming Mr Bardella.

“The French farmers’ battle isn’t just a fight for a profession in particular... but for the entirety of a France that wants to preserve its identity, countryside, gastronomy, traditions,” including against top-down rules decided at the EU level, Mr Bardella said.

The June poll is the only significant nationwide election before France’s next presidential ballot in 2027, when Marine Le Pen is expected to mount a fourth bid for the top job and Mr Macron cannot stand again due to term limits.

Introducing her protégé on Sunday, Ms Le Pen said Mr Macron was “under siege” over his track record on inflation, his unpopular pension reform last year and his recent suggestion that deployment of Western troops to Ukraine could not be ruled out.

Mr Macron “thinks he can find political salvation in warlike posturing that stunned the French public”, she said, to boos from the crowd.

‘About to win the game’

Mr Bardella dismissed as “fake news” the idea that his party wished France to leave the EU like Britain.

“Our Macronist opponents accuse us... of being in favour of a Frexit, of wanting to take power so as to leave the EU,” said Mr Bardella.

But “you don’t leave the table when you’re about to win the game”, he said, pointing out that hard-Right allies in a string of EU countries, including Italy, Sweden, Hungary, the Netherlands and Austria, were heading to make gains.

Mr Macron only belatedly named the leader of his party’s European campaign last week.

Valérie Hayer, 37, head of the centrist Renew Europe group in the European Parliament – the chamber’s third-largest – is a farmer’s daughter and a virtual unknown in France.

On Monday, she hit back at Mr Bardella and Ms Le Pen, saying that 23 National Rally MEPs had done “nothing” in the European Parliament to date.

National Rally has an “anti-European plan to dismantle the European Union, which, under the guise of protecting the French, will very clearly weaken them”, Ms Hayer said.

She added: “Their project is Frexit. They don’t want to talk about Europe. They are here for a rematch of the presidential election and they see it as a mid-term election.”