At a joint press conference with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini in Lyon, France, the two leading members of the right-wing Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group made clear that their distinctly European initiative had no room for former Donald J. Trump chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
Le Pen was quick to remind those gathered at the conference that Bannon is “not a European” and “it is not up to an American to save Europe” before adding, “It is us and only us who will shape the political force resulting from European elections.”
Bannon has spent the last several months in Europe as he tries to rally support for his still struggling Brussels-based think-tank known as “The Movement”, which was personally founded by Bannon as a far-right outlet to play a role in the European Elections set for May 2019.
The subject of the bilateral meeting between Le Pen and Salvini was the consolidation of Europe’s anti-migrant and national political movements into a collective that will be known as the “Freedom Front.”
According to Italian daily, La Stampa, Salvini is also looking to rally the Sweden Democrats and also to convince Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, to defect from the European People’s Party.
The new movement will naturally include the French National Rally that is headed by Le Pen, Salvini’s Lega (League), the Belgian Flemish Interest, the Dutch Party for Freedom, and Austria’s FPÖ.
The political programme of the Freedom Movement is apparently an attack on the “Brussels bunker,” which Salvini elaborated on when he said “Europe’s enemies are those cut off in the bunker of Brussels […] The Junckers, the Moscovicis, who brought insecurity and fear to Europe and refuse to leave their armchairs.”
Salvini described the forthcoming European elections as “the end of the journey” and “a revolution of common sense.”
Going a step further, Le Pen said that their movement is not fighting Europe but the European Union, which in her view “has become a totalitarian system.”
Five Star Movement keeps its distance
Italy’s second deputy prime minister and leader of the Five Star Movement (MS5), Luigi Di Maio, distanced himself from Salvini’s political initiative.
“Orban and Le Pen have nothing to do with us,” Di Maio told the Italian news agency ANSA, adding “they are Lega’s partners, not ours.”