Europe

France's Front National party leader 'opens arms' to UKIP

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Media captionMarine Le Pen: Mr Farage is "undoubtedly is a charismatic leader"

The leader of the French far right-wing Front National (FN) party has said that she would welcome collaboration with UKIP with "open arms".

Marine Le Pen told BBC Newsnight ideas UKIP leader Nigel Farage defends are "very similar" to those of her party.

In a statement, UKIP said it was "not interested in any deal" with Ms Le Pen or her party because of "prejudice and anti-Semitism in particular" in the FN.

UKIP this week appeared to align itself with a French Eurosceptic party.

Speaking on Newsnight, Ms Le Pen insisted that Front National's campaign against the European Union was in line with UKIP's Eurosceptic policies.

She said her "arms will be open" to Mr Farage if he were willing to "join up in a common plan to fight the European Union."

"As long as it serves the interests of the European people" she added.

Charismatic leader

Ms Le Pen said that although there are "strategic or tactical differences" between the two parties, there were "obvious similarities" in polices such as "refusal of massive immigration" and "peoples' freedom to decide for themselves".

"People have progressively realised the EU has brought them nothing but unhappiness, devastation, identity loss, and unprotected frontiers," she said.

"If he understood how serious the EU's situation is, he would support the reunion of all patriotic movements, and he would not use tactics and strategy," she told Newsnight.

UKIP said that despite "efforts that Ms Le Pen has made at modernisation" of the Front National, they were "not interested in any deal" because "in the parties DNA there is prejudice and anti-Semitism in particular".

On Tuesday, Mr Farage appeared to form an allegiance with a fellow Eurosceptic party, Debout la Republique (DLR: Stand up, the Republic!) at a rally in Paris.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Farage was greeted with sustained applause by French Eurosceptics at a rally in Paris

The party is the political vehicle of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, a 52-year-old dissident Gaullist who feels the mainstream centre-right UMP party has sold out to Brussels. He received less than 2% at the last presidential vote.

"Nigel Farage appears to have chosen to campaign along with a candidate who reaches scores of 1% in France," Ms Le Pen said.

"I am still wondering why he made that choice, as Nicolas Dupont Aignan's political choices are very close to ours."

However, Ms Le Pen said that this would not stop her welcoming collaboration with Mr Farege and UKIP.

She said she would rise above "personal considerations" and added Mr Farage is "undoubtedly is a charismatic leader."

See the interview on Newsnight on 17 April at 22:30 BST on BBC Two or afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

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