By Hugh Carnegy in Paris
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, has launched an outspoken attack on Nigel Farage for labelling her party racist in the run-up to European elections this month.
Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Ms Le Pen said the Ukip leader’s stance was a ploy intended to surpass her as the EU’s leading eurosceptic after the elections, in which their parties are vying for victory in their respective countries.
“Of course. Clearly it’s the main reason for his behaviour. It’s an old story between France and England,” she said.
Mr Farage, having rejected the FN for its “anti-semitism and general prejudice”, has allied in France with a fringe eurosceptic Gaullist group.
Expressing her irritation at his “tactical choice”, Ms Le Pen said the two had met several times. “I have had good contacts with him, and we met members of Ukip . . . There are Ukip members who don’t understand his aggression against us.”
She accused Mr Farage of being “dishonest” for “using arguments against the FN of which he himself has been a victim”.
Ms Le Pen, buoyed by polls showing the FN with a clear chance of topping the European poll in France, said she would not need Ukip to form a strong group of hardline anti-Brussels parties in the parliament which would seek to “block all the federalist advances of the EU”.
She predicted that like-minded parties from the Netherlands – where the FN is allied with Geert Wilders’ Dutch Freedom party – Austria, Italy, Belgium and Sweden would be able to muster the numbers needed to boost the European Alliance for Freedom as the dominant group on the hard nationalist right, eclipsing Ukip. (FT)