Marine Le Pen brands EU religious sect for wanting to make Brexit Britain pay

Marine Le Pen 'threatening Macron in elections' says expert

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National Rally (NR) leader Ms Le Pen, who lost to Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 election, is gearing up for her third presidential bid next spring. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, the right-wing leader talked at length about her vision for France if she wins the race to the Elysee Palace. In a sign that post-Brexit relations between Britain and France could improve under her leadership, Ms Le Pen also sided with London in the ongoing rift with Brussels.

Ms Le Pen criticised the “pathetic” attitude of some EU leaders who, after Brexit, would have wanted the British to pay for their taste for freedom.

She said: “The EU functions as a kind of sect that one cannot leave without triggering religious-like condemnation from its leaders.

“I deplored the pathetic attitude of the Europeanists who, after Brexit, would have wanted the British to pay for their taste for freedom, with the barely concealed ulterior motive of dissuading other candidates from leaving.

“The EU sees itself as an empire and “empire” means imperialism.

“Initially it was an international organisation, that is to say, a forum for cooperation between nations; gradually, it evolved into a federalist project; it tends today to become a centralised Jacobin state, a machine for methodically crushing the identities and sovereignties of the Nations that compose it.”

When asked about post-Brexit relations between France and the UK, Ms Le Pen said: “My criticism lies in the method, that is to say multilateralism: I would have preferred our nations to deal with each other within the framework of respectful bilateral relations.

“If we take the example of fishing, which is an important subject between our countries, it is obvious that it is of little interest to Germany, Italy or Malta.

“It would have been better to negotiate directly.

“We can see that the EU model is not suitable because it is insufficiently pragmatic.”

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Ms Le Pen’s comments come as officials have warned a trade war between Britain and the EU is “inevitable” if the UK refuses to back down on its new demands for post-Brexit rules on Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday, Brexit minister David Frost issued a new “command paper” that would radically rework the Northern Ireland protocol, a deal he himself negotiated and which only came into force in January, effectively removing most of a trade border created in the Irish Sea.

But the proposal was swiftly rejected by the EU.

Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, said in an official statement: “We will not agree to a renegotiation of the protocol.”

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Trade officials and business leaders told The Independent that time is running out to reach agreement ahead of the introduction of critical deadlines for extra processes which the UK agreed under the protocol.

They fear the step from the UK government could push London and Brussels into a tit-for-tat trade fight.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said on Thursday the EU had been inflexible over renegotiating the Northern Ireland part of the Brexit divorce accord and cautioned Brussels that it was not a deal that would last forever.

He told Sky News: “A deal is a deal but it wasn’t something that was going to last forever,

“It was something that was flexible and we want to make it work more smoothly.”

“Article 16 … it is something that we could do, to suspend it, we’ve chosen not to do that, that’s not our opening position and we want to be able to negotiate and have a conversation with the EU about how best to go forward.”

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