Wednesday

24th Aug 2016

Focus

Le Pen meets Ukip man

  • Marine Le Pen in a Brussels hotel lobby meeting ex-Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom (Photo: EUobserver)

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Thursday evening (5 June) met outgoing independent MEP Godfrey Bloom, who still retains Ukip membership in Britain.

Officially, Ukip is not interested in an alliance with Le Pen, but Bloom is a long-time supporter of the French politician and has ignored Ukip leader Nigel Farage's request not to contact her.

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Bloom lost the Ukip whip and left the European Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group earlier this year after having jokingly called a female audience "sluts" and after having slapped a BBC journalist on the street.

He has retained party membership back home, but has not been re-elected to the new parliament.

According to sources close to the meeting, Bloom had a friendly conversation with Le Pen, who was interested in how her party might be perceived in Britain.

He told her that her worries the National Front may be seen as anti-Semitic are unfounded because in Britain "hardly anyone knows what anti-Semitic means".

EFD spokesman Herman Kelly told this website the meeting does not mean the two parties will formally team up in the EP. "Nigel told him to desist from any interaction with her. What he's doing is on his own," Kelly said.

Le Pen is confident she can get enough MEPs (minimum 25) from enough countries (minimum seven) to form a group even without Ukip.

So is Farage, who last week had a lunch with Italian comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo in the Ravenstein, an Indian restaurant in the centre of Brussels.

Farage later posted on his Facebook page that he had "great fun" with the Italian leader of the Five Star Movement, who has a "huge personality".

The lunch didn't lead to a political alliance and has hampered efforts by Grillo to get his 17 deputies into the Green group.

Other talks are being held by the Greens with independent MEPs from Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands in an effort to get them to join their group.

More one-on-one meetings among MEPs are expected next week, as groups need to be formed by 24 June when the numbers in each faction are formally counted. After this committee chairmanship and membership will be decided - something that will be keenly watched by Brussels' thousands of lobbyists.

An overview of parties switching groups and new MEPs joining new or old groups can be found here.

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