Friday

20th Sep 2019

Le Pen: France should follow UK lead on EU vote

  • Marine Le Pen vows a referendum in France to leave the EU (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen wants a referendum for France to leave the EU.

In a copycat move ahead of Britain's decisive vote, Le Pen told French television TF1 on Tuesday (21 June) that France and every other EU state should hold similar ballots.

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"What I'm asking for is a referendum in France. Every EU member should be able to have its say in a referendum," she said.

Le Pen is a staunch opponent of immigration, the single currency, and the passport free Schengen zone.

Her anti-EU party topped the polls in the EU election in 2014, but failed to win a single region in regional elections last December, denting her prospects in French presidential elections next April.

Should she win the top post, the National Front leader said she would organise an EU exit vote within the first six months of the presidency in an effort to break free from Brussels.

Le Pen said she would first push to regain “border control, budgetary, legislative and monetary sovereignty” from the EU. If those efforts fail, then she would demand a popular vote.

Le Pen's threat underpins growing EU scepticism throughout the bloc.

Only 38 percent of French people, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Centre earlier this month, have a favourable view of the EU. The figure represents a double-digit drop of 17 percentage points when compared to 2015.

Conducted in 10 EU states, the same survey also said a UK exit would harm the EU.

Polls suggested that Britain's Thursday referendum to leave or remain in the European Union remains evenly split.

Le Pen said she would vote for Brexit if she had the chance.

“I would vote for Brexit, even if I think that France has a thousand more reasons to leave than the UK,” she said.

Unlike the UK, France is a euro-zone member and is in the Schengen area.

Le Pen, who is also an MEP in Brussels, railed against what she described as a "decaying" EU.

She noted the UK referendum, regardless of the outcome, is a sign of an EU in decline.

“Whatever the result, it shows the EU is decaying, that there are cracks everywhere,” she said.

The French in 2005 voted against a draft EU treaty. The move was widely ignored by the two ruling parties at the time, leaving behind bitter resentment among those that opposed it.

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