EU Referendum

Brexit 'most important moment since Berlin Wall': Le Pen

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Media captionMarine Le Pen said the British had "fired the first shot"

France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen has called the UK's Brexit vote "the most important moment since the fall of the Berlin Wall".

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the far-right leader said her party has been given a boost by the result.

Ms Le Pen - one of the contenders for the French presidency in 2017 - said she would call a referendum if elected.

A number of other far-right leaders in Europe say they would like to hold their own referendums on EU membership.

In her first broadcast interview since the UK's Leave vote in the referendum, Ms Le Pen commended "the courage of the British people who didn't allow themselves to be intimidated by the threats, blackmail, and lies of the European elites".

"For four years I've been demanding that a referendum be organised in France, to ask the French people what they think of the EU - if they want to leave. The Brits got the first shot in, so to speak."

"If I win the presidential election, there will be a referendum... The question should be asked in every EU country," she said.

Ms Le Pen specifically cited France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, where leaders of anti-immigration and far-right parties have indicated they would like to follow the UK example.

She said Britain's vote for Brexit would help her party, the National Front, because it has shown that voters are willing to disregard the warnings of their leaders and experts. "They are for Remain but the nation was for Brexit."

She said it improved the chances of France leaving the EU because "Brexit has shown us that it's possible".

Asked whether she believes the UK definitely will leave the EU following the vote, she said: "I hope so, because otherwise we can throw the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the fire, together with European values. If the will of the people is not respected - once again - that would mean we are definitively in a totalitarian system."

Ms Le Pen was also highly critical of US President Barack Obama's pre-referendum comments on the referendum - in which he argued that the EU makes Britain stronger - and his visit to the UK in April.

"I was extremely shocked by the behaviour of Mr Obama... I think going to a country to tell it what to do, otherwise you'll see, we'll impose sanctions on you - I think that's shameful. It's shameful," she said.

"We are old nations. We paid a high price to defend our freedom, our sovereignty. We built our democracies. We made a lot of sacrifices to get where we are today. We didn't do it to obey Mr Obama or Mrs Merkel."

Ms Le Pen said it would be totally incorrect to suggest - as some commentators have - that the Brexit vote has stirred up racism.

"Racism must be fought - there are no two ways about it…. [But] it's not caused by Brexit. Once again, it's time to stop with propaganda."

The European parliament's first debate on the UK's vote to leave took place on Tuesday, and was marked by bitter exchanges.

A central figure in the Leave campaign, UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, was booed, called a liar and accused of using "Nazi propaganda".

Mr Farage shot back that the EU itself was "in denial".

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in Brussels for his first talks with leaders of the other 27 EU states since Thursday's referendum.

Watch Emily Maitlis' full interview with Marine Le Pen on BBC Newsnight at 22:30 BST on BBC Two

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