Bannon to French far-right party: 'Let them call you racists'

French far-right party severs all ties with Marine Le Pen

Modal Trigger National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, right and former White House strategist Steve Bannon AP

Marine Le Pen will try to shore up her damaged leadership of the National Front by relaunching the party under a new, less sulphurous name. "It went from a party of protest first in its youth, then from a party of opposition to a party of government", Le Pen said Friday on French broadcaster France 2.

Le Pen, running as the only candidate for National Front president, said the changes amount to a "cultural revolution" so the reshaped party can "implant itself, create alliances and govern". That meeting came after Bannon met flew to Italy ahead of last Sunday's national election, lending his support to anti-establishment and populist parties.

Addressing the FN congress earlier, Bannon was given a standing ovation, as he told party members history was on their side and would eventually lead them to victory.

The European tour comes as Bannon's role in American politics is uncertain.

Steve Bannon is set to give a speech Saturday at a major conference of the French right-wing party National Front (FN) in the northern city of Lille.

Le Pen's daughter Marine Le Pen, who heads the French National Front, ran for President and lost to Emmanuel Macron.

"She is not simply a rising star on the right in France".

The anti-immigration stance of Trump's campaign and presidency were attributed to Bannon before he left the White House and echo ideas that Le Pen has long championed.

Le Pen's niece Marion recently drew scrutiny from conservative activists by her appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of Republicans and conservatives near Washington.

Marion's US speech was widely commented on in French media as posing a challenge for Marine Le Pen.

Bannon has publicly praised Marechal-Le Pen in the past, and she spoke at a recent convention of USA conservatives.

But party members credit Marine Le Pen with massively expanding the party's support, doubling its score from 5.5 million votes in the 2002 presidential election to 10.6 million, or nearly 34 percent, in 2017.

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