Bannon to French far-right party: 'Let them call you racists'

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"You're part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy", Bannon told National Front supporters, denouncing central banks, central governments and "crony capitalists".

Le Pen was hoping that the National Front congress in Lille would help her reassert her authority, after her defeat to pro-Europe centrist Emmanuel Macron prompted criticism of her style and policies.

A younger leadership circle will likely emerge, but Marine Le Pen, the only candidate for president, will remain.

Since taking over the National Front's presidency in 2011, Le Pen has worked to erase the footprint of her father - who has convictions for racism and anti-Semitism - to broaden the party's appeal. "Wear it as a badge of honor", he declared.

Her poor showing in a final TV debate against Macron raised questions about her fitness to lead one of the world's biggest economies and in the months since both party and leader have appeared somewhat deflated.

The party conference in Lille will also feature a vote as to whether the elder Le Pen can keep his title as the party's honorary president.

On some level, the speech presented another development in the transatlantic relationship between far-right movements in the United States and Europe, particularly in France. "Let them call you xenophobes".

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Bannon argued that Trump's policies are addressing the economic struggles seen by minority populations in the US, claiming that it took "someone like Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out "subversion" at VA MORE, that they run down as a racist every day, to solve the problem of the black and Hispanic working class".

"Let them call you racist".

The party's deputy president Louis Aliot was the one who shed light to the explosive news about Bannon's speech on the first day of the conference. "Let them call you nativists", he said.

Bannon said he agreed with Le Pen's expressed belief that "it is not about left versus right", while blaming the media for having "always kept us out of power".

Jean-Marie Le Pen said that in losing heavily to Macron his daughter had "not been equal to the challenge" - a sentiment echoed by many FN members.

An election next year for members of the European Union's lawmaking arm will be the National Front's first chance to test its rebranding strategy. Le Pen's niece, former lawmaker and rising far-right star Marion Marechal-Le Pen, who attracted traditional Catholics and other social conservatives, dropped out of politics, at least temporarily. She bowed out of politics after her aunt's presidential defeat, but is expected to come back in a new role.

However, senior members of the far-right party have been touring French regions to meet party activist and members have received a questionnaire regarding the party's future.

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