French populist Marine Le Pen has reportedly ousted several prominent social conservatives from the National Rally’s (RN) inauguration committee ahead of French regional elections.
The reshuffle sees six members removed from the National Inauguration Committee, around a quarter of the total members, many of them well-known as being socially conservative.
Among those ousted is lawyer Gilbert Collard, who served as one of the party’s few MPs in the French parliament prior to the 2017 national elections. He resigned as MP last year after being elected to the European Parliament.
Mr Collard told French newspaper Le Figaro: “I will resign from the national office (the party leadership). The letter leaves tomorrow. That way, they won’t have to fire me.”
He later stated that Ms Le Pen had given him a new role, to shape the cultural component of her presidential campaign in 2022.
Marine Le Pen Vows to Deport Criminal Migrants If Elected President in 2022 https://t.co/iOjmP7bzct
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 31, 2020
Prominent MEP Nicolas Bay was also removed from the committee. Mr Bay, a staunch social conservative, spoke out on Friday about the European Commission spending €36.5 million on “Islamist” associations between 2014 and 2019, but did not comment on his removal from the committee.
In 2018, Mr Bay spoke to Breitbart News and gave praise to U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Italian populist League leader Matteo Salvini for their stances against illegal mass migration.
According to Le Figaro, Marine Le Pen and the RN are looking to invest in candidates more loyal to Ms Le Pen, particularly as regional councillors have an important role as signatories to her planned 2022 presidential bid, with each candidate requiring 500 signatures.
Several members of Les Patriotes, a splinter party created by former Front National (the RN’s previous name) politician Florian Philippot, have also rejoined the party. Le Figaro speculates more members of Philippot’s circle could return to the party, as well.