'Let them call you racists,' Bannon tells far-right French party

Turkey court orders release of two more journalists in newspaper trial

Turkey court orders release of two more journalists in newspaper trial

To that end, rebranding the National Front's image is the primary goal of the "party congress" in Lille this weekend.

Steve Bannon delivers a speech during the French far-right Front National (FN) party annual congress, March 10, 2018 in Lille, France.

Ten months ago, the party was on a high after Le Pen saw off the Socialist candidate to take the FN into the second round of the presidential election with unprecedented support, though not enough to defeat Macron. A new leadership structure and new bylaws are also being unveiled at the two-day congress.

The rebranding is part of a long effort by Le Pen to give the National Front a softer, more mainstream image since taking over leadership from her father seven years ago. The younger Le Pen has said the proposed name change is needed to show that the party had become "adult", The Guardian reported.

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Steve Bannon, a right-wing firebrand and former member of US President Donald Trump's inner circle, voiced solidarity for France's a National Front (FN) party conference in Lille on Saturday.

Bannon was among Trump's closest aides during the 2016 election campaign, the presidential transition and his first months in office.

Bannon had faced mounting pressure after he was quoted disparaging President Trump and his family in Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House".

"Let them call you racists", Bannon told the anti-immigrant party's audience on Saturday in France, as The Washington Post reported. Le Pen hopes to rally supporters around a new party name - and possibly a new direction. "It has gone from a party of protest in its youth, to a party of opposition and now a governing party".

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"The questionnaire shows we need to be more nuanced on certain subjects", Le Pen said. National Front members get to vote on a new name for the party, which will be announced on Sunday. His daughter officially expelled him in 2015, for repeating the gas chamber remark.

"Right or left doesn't mean anything and doesn't reflect the real division in France today which is between those who feel the nation is an obstacle and those who feel the nation is a jewel to be defended", she said. 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.

"I won't go to Lille because I don't want to become ... an accomplice to the assassination of the National Front that will be underway there", he told RTL radio.

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