Eric Zemmour points gun at reporters during an arms fair
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The far-right political pundit claimed he would close France’s borders with its EU neighbours and strip all migrants of their rights in exchange for legal immigration. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph on his visit to London earlier this week, Mr Zemmour claimed he would not worry about Brussels’ reactions to his immigration policies should he succeed in his quest to replace Emmanuel Macron.
He argued that contrary to the UK, which was never part of the eurozone and did not damage the EU in its core with Brexit, Frexit would destroy the union.
He said: “I congratulate Poland on wanting to build a wall.
“If necessary I would close our borders with Italy, or Spain, whatever the Schengen Treaty says.”
He added: “Without France the EU is dead.”
Mr Zemmour, a former journalist known for his hardline anti-migration stance and euroscepticism who is shaking up the election campaign with his polarising language, spoke to a packed room of 400 at a hotel in Earls Court.
He told the diverse crowd, which included wealthy businessmen and children: “You are the best of France, you are audacious to leave your country and I am proud of you.”
An estimated 165,000 French citizens live in the United Kingdom, according to the Office of National Statistics.
His speech was held at the Ibis Hotel after London’s Royal Institution cancelled an event after conducting “due diligence” on Zemmour, whom opinion polls suggest could reach a second-round runoff vote against President Emmanuel Macron, despite having yet to formally declare his candidacy.
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“The Royal Institution has decided 48 hours before Eric Zemmour’s conference to cancel, by email and without explanation, the booking we had formalized two weeks ago,” a statement released by his team said late on Wednesday.
Mr Zemmour had hoped to speak before several hundred French expatriates living in London at the headquarters of the Royal Institution.
The cancellation was incomprehensible and damages would be sought, said the statement on behalf of Mr Zemmour.
Mr Zemmour praised Britain for leaving the European Union but dodged multiple questions about whether he would advocate for “Frexit” Several French protesters gathered outside but he received a warm welcome in the hall, as some attendees chanted “Zemmour is alive”.
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Julien Prychinzki, a 33-year-old from Toulouse who has lived in east Londonfor eight years said: “I am here because I am curious.
“What resonates with me is his lucid assessment of the decline of France.
“We have significant problems and we are in a country that doesn’t know where it’s going when you live abroad you understand this even more.”
Virginie Waldron, 33, came from Dorset in southwest England, saying she supports Zemmour because she is scared about crime levels in France.
She told Reuters: “I don’t see any alternatives.
“All the people that are running have been there for 15 years. They have all failed miserably, they all have the same politics.”
Mr Zemmour has written numerous books on what he calls the erosion of France’s national identity, blaming waves of uncontrolled immigration. His divisive rhetoric on Islam and security is striking a chord with staunch conservatives.
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