Marine Le Pen's deputy quits, splitting far-right party

Marine Le Pen's deputy quits, splitting far-right party”

Philippot reacted to the decision by saying the party would "regret bitterly" and renounced the ongoing re-foundation of the National Front, calling it "a terrifying step back" on its political line. "Of course, I'm leaving the National Front", Philippot said.

Florian Philippot, a deprecated vice president, announced on Thursday (September 21st) that he was slamming the door of the party, refusing to leave the presidency of his association Les Patriotes as Marine Le Pen had asked him.

The politician, who is gay, came to be seen as the emblem of the FN's embracing of liberal social values under Le Pen's leadership.

The divide within the National Front ultimately risks the party's ability to present itself as a major opposition force to French President Emmanuel Macron. "Maybe in this new project, I will not have my place, so pretexts were needed", Philippot told France 2 broadcaster.

However, Philippot's exit brings to a head a crisis that erupted in the 45-year-old party after it performed poorly in both the May presidential and June parliamentary elections.

But recently she's distanced herself from his view, focusing instead on the party's anti-immigration roots.

Le Pen, who just previous year spoke of having an "intellectual crush" on Philippot, responded tersely that the FN would have no problems of getting over his departure.

"The FN will finally have some peace of mind away from a sectarian, arrogant, vain extremist who was trying to muzzle our freedom to debate", Aliot said on Twitter. He was blamed by many voices in the populist party for damaging Le Pen image during 2017 election campaign. She ordered him to disband the group last week and he refused, which led to him being stripped of his strategy role. It was already reeling from the exit of Marion Maréchal Le Pen. She later clashed with her niece.

It therefore came as no surprise when Mr Mélenchon called on disgruntled far-right supporters to join his party, France Unbowed, shortly after Mr Philippot's shock departure was announced.

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