Le Pen’s Frexit-backing ‘challenger’ tipped to follow Macron’s footsteps as ‘outsider’

Marine Le Pen 'challenger' discussed by Dr Niall McCrae

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Bruges Group contributor Dr Niall McCrae told Express.co.uk of the “challenger” to Ms Le Pen – who could threaten her political position on the right. Dr McCrae believes support for Ms Le Pen is “waning” and suggested “outsider” Florian Philippot could rise up the ranks to take her place. He added that Mr Philippot, who used to be in Ms Le Pen’s National Rally party, was already speaking to large French audiences and saw decent backing for his more anti-EU stance.

Dr McCrae and Robert Oulds, director of the Bruges Group, were asked whether they think Ms Le Pen would be an ally to the UK – if she wins the 2022 election.

Mr Oulds believes Ms Le Pen would be a “fair-weather friend” to the UK.

Dr McCrae agreed, but suggested Mr Philipott could be a big figure in the future.

He explained: “I don’t think British people should put too much faith in [Le Pen].

“However, I think the question may become quite redundant anyway because I perceive Marine Le Pen on the slide. I think that she had her opportunity as she did very well in the last election.

“She doubled what her father got in votes but she’s not really making any momentum.”

Dr McCrae then identified Mr Philippot as being an important figure in the future.

He continued: “[He is] becoming more and more popular, he’s attending these mass rallies, speaking to hundreds of thousands of people.

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“Le Pen was kind of irrelevant, really, with Covid. Macron is very relevant because he’s leading the regime.

“Le Pen didn’t really have a consistent view on Covid, initially she was asking for harsher lockdown and now she’s sort of complaining a bit about the lockdown being too harsh.

“Whereas this new chap Philippot, who’s come along, is becoming more and more popular – so he ends up being the challenger.

‘Now who would have thought Macron would have come from nowhere and swept to victory four or five years ago.

“Lots of surprises can be around the corner.”

Mr Macron won by 66.06 percent to Ms Le Pen’s 33.94 percent in the second round of 2017’s presidential election.

The current French president left Francois Hollande’s government a few months before the 2017 election to form his own centrist party called En Marche.

Mr Macron, who had no electoral experience and was considered an outsider, then won the presidential election.

Described by some as the “French Nigel Farage”, Mr Philippot was Ms Le Pen’s number two in the 2017 French presidential election.

Mr Philippot quit after she lost – and set up The Patriot party soon after.

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The rising politician has made several appearances on French national TV and hosted many popular rallies.

Mr Philippot also gained notoriety for his anti-Covid stance. He warned a French vaccine passport scheme could lead to further passports which could restrict people’s movement.

He was routinely attacked as being an anti-vaxxer.

Mr Philippot is also a major supporter for Frexit and backed France leaving the EU back in 2016.

Many voters turned their nose up at Mr Philippot when he campaigned for France to leave the bloc but has garnered more support thanks to the EU’s shambolic vaccine programme earlier in the year.

According to Politico’s poll of polls, Mr Philipot sees one percent support with Emmanuel Macron seeing 24 percent.

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