‘President of freedoms’ Le Pen kickstarts election campaign with bitter swipe at Macron

Marine Le Pen 'will look to UK as an example' says Parry

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Speaking on TF1 on Sunday night, the National Rally leader blasted Emmanuel Macron as he “denied the freedoms of the French” with his coronavirus restrictions strategy. The far-right presidential candidate said she wants to be seen as the protector of freedoms. She took advantage of this political comeback to attack the incumbent French President.

Ms Le Pen said: “Emmanuel Macron has denied the freedoms of the French.

“All the French aspire to the return of freedom, there is a feeling of suffocation in our country.

“We must understand the unease.”

Commenting on Macron’s health pass provision, she added: “I am opposed to it.

“This creates a form of division between the French which is not justified.

“It is a disproportionate attack on freedom compared to the advantages it brings.”

Herself “vaccinated”, she assured, however, “not to be against the vaccine at all.”

Le Pen, who lost to Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 election, is gearing up for her third presidential bid next spring.

Last week she said that she would nationalise French motorways and privatise public television and radio channels if she wins the 2022 presidential election.

She told French daily Le Figaro that these two proposals were aimed at protecting the purchasing power of the French.

Nationalising French highways, which are currently operated by French groups Eiffage and Vinci, would cut toll-road tariffs by 10-15 percent and bring an extra 1.5 billion euros to state coffers, Le Pen said.

Meanwhile, privatising public television and radio channels would save French households 2.8 billion euros in the levy they pay to help fund public broadcasting, she added.

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The right-wing politician said she has moved on from her 2017 pledges of leaving the EU and the eurozone, but she has already promised two referenda on the supremacy of French law over EU and international law and another one on immigration.

Polls suggest the race will be between her and President Macron in the final round of the elections, but a potential candidacy by far-right commentator Eric Zemmour could scupper her chances of beating the French leader.

Zemmour, a regular feature on billionaire Vincent Bollore’s CNews cable network and widely credited with lifting its viewer numbers, has not officially thrown his hat into the 2022 presidential election race.

However, he has said he wants to run, has quit his columnist job at Le Figaro newspaper, launched a website and will soon publish his latest book – a rite of passage for would-be candidates.

An establishment outsider, Zemmour would sit further still to the right of Marine Le Pen.

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Polls show him winning 7-8 percent of the first-round presidential vote.

That would not be enough to pass into the second round, but by eroding the support of Le Pen, with security, national identity and immigration set to dominate the campaign, he would make the contest more unpredictable, including for President Macron.

Zemmour alleges France will be transformed into an Islamic republic within a century if it does not crack down hard on immigration.

On Wednesday, he successfully overturned on appeal one of several convictions for inciting hatred. Another court also on Wednesday postponed a separate hate trial related to remarks Zemmour made about unaccompanied child migrants last September.

“They’ve no reason to be here, they are thieves, killers, rapists, that’s all they are. They should be sent home, they shouldn’t even come here in the first place,” Zemmour said at the time.

Commenting on his potential candidacy, Le Pen said on Sunday: “I have no opponents among those who believe in France.

“There is a big distance between those who believe in France and those who no longer believe in it.

“And I think Eric Zemmour is one of those who believe in France.”

She added: “I will never treat him as an adversary.

“We have differences, but we win together, not divided.

“I think he should reserve his attacks for Emmanuel Macron.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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