Marine Le Pen, the frontrunner in the first round of France’s imminent presidential elections, insisted she would not appear before a European Union flag in an interview with the TF1 television channel.
“I want to be President of the French Republic, not of the European Commission,” she explained in a statement.
“All the more so since I consider that the European Union has done a great deal of harm to our country and to our people, be it in economic matters, in social matters, or in the matter of the disappearance of borders.
“This will be my first measure: to restore national borders to the French, to regain mastery in order to know who is entering our country [in order] to fight against the danger of Islamist terrorism [and] migrants [who] come and hit us in the heart”.
Tf1 guests normally appear beside an EU flag tethered to a French tricolour but, unlike rival candidate Emmanuel Macron, Ms. Le Pen insisted that only the French flag should feature alongside her.
The Front National leader’s commitment to ending France’s membership of the borderless Schengen area, described as “effectively an international passport-free zone for terrorists” by former Interpol chief Robert Noble, sets her on a collision course with the European Commission. The EU’s unelected executive is quietly terrified that a Le Pen presidency could bring the European project to a screeching halt.
“From the [European] Commission’s point of view, success for Marine Le Pen is a disaster and an existential threat to the European project,” an anonymous high-ranking official confessed in March 2017. “We can survive a Brexit, but not a Frexit.”
The 48-year-old has not outright committed to Frexit, but has declared that rivals who promise to implement policies on security and protecting French workers which are forbidden by EU law are lying to the French people.
She has pledged that she will insist the EU accept reforms restoring the powers of national governments over a broad range of policy areas, or else organise a referendum on leaving the bloc.
“What is at stake in this election is the continuity of France as a free nation, our existence as a people,” she said in February 2017. “[T]he people are waking – the tide of history has turned.”