The Le Pen feud: Jean-Marie goes on the attack

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen moved a step closer to pushing her father out of the National Front when she announced on Thursday that he would face a party disciplinary hearing after a series of inflammatory interviews. Her father has vowed to "go on the attack".

The Le Pen feud: Jean-Marie goes on the attack
Marine Le Pen will haul her dad before National Front disciplinary committee. Photo: AFP

Marine Le Pen said her father, who is the honorary president and founder of the National Front party, would appear before a disciplinary body — and should consider quitting politics — after making controversial comments about the Holocaust.

A dramatic family feud first burst into the open Wednesday with Marine accusing her controversy-loving father of committing "political suicide" when he said Nazi gas chambers were a "detail of history" and defended war-time French leader Philippe Petain, who collaborated with Hitler's regime.

On Thursday, Marine Le Pen said the 86-year-old former FN leader had been summoned "to the executive body" for disciplinary proceedings.

Marine Le Pen also asked her father "to prove his wisdom, draw the consequences of the trouble he himself has created and maybe give up his political responsibilities."

Marine Le Pen said on TF1 television that the row pained her deeply — both as a daughter and a member of the FN, which has made huge electoral strides in recent years, becoming one of Europe's most successful far right parties.

"But before being daughter and father… we are political leaders and in being so we have huge responsibilities with regard to not only the future of the National Front but also to the future of our country," she said.

Jean-Marie Le Pen didn't take long to hit back, taking to the airwaves of French radio station RTL to lambast his own daughter, saying he was "flabbergasted" by her decision.

"I don't understand the reason for this action. Marine Le Pen is in the process of blowing up her own party," said the veteran of the France-Algeria War, who has numerous convictions for hate speech.

"It's not me killing myself, it's she who is shooting herself in the foot," the 86-year-old told RTL radio.

"She had the chance to have unity and winning results but instead she creates a major problem with the honorary president and founder of the party, who is also her own father, for reasons that are not justified," Le Pen said.

Le Pen senior said he would not only stoutly defend himself before the disciplinary body but also "go on the attack". 

Political rivals immediately took pot shots at the pair.

"We feel humiliated to witness this spectacle," said France's center-right former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

"This family drama — one doesn't know whether to shed tears of laughter or tears of sorrow," he said.

SEE ALSO: High stakes as Le Pen mulls booting out father

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France’s far-right patriarch refused questioning in EU fraud case

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France's far-right National Front party, refused to submit to police questioning last month as part of an EU funding inquiry, claiming immunity as a European Parliament lawmaker, his adviser said Sunday.

France's far-right patriarch refused questioning in EU fraud case

Le Pen is one of several party MEPs suspected of using European Parliament funds provided for assistants to pay more than 20 France-based party staff.

If convicted, the party could be ordered to repay €7 million ($8.2 million), and the judges pre-emptively seized the subsidies.

An EU tribunal has already determined that Le Pen must reimburse €320,000.

But when police from France's anti-corruption squad tried to question him last month at his office just outside Paris, he claimed MEP immunity and ordered them to leave.

“He was prepared to receive them, but they had such arrogant attitudes which Jean-Marie Le Pen refused to accept,” his adviser Lorrain de Saint Affrique told AFP, confirming a report in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Le Pen, 90, sits as an independent after being thrown out of his party by his daughter Marine Le Pen in 2015 for saying the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of history.

He has also often made disparaging statements against Muslims and Roma which have earned him a string of hate speech convictions.

His daughter has renamed the party the National Rally in an effort to shed its xenophobic and anti-Semitic image.

The EU funding inquiry has led French judges to withhold €2 million of public subsidies for the party, a move which Marine Le Pen has denounced as a “death sentence”.

Without the funds, she warns the party will be bankrupt by September.