French far right eager for US site Breitbart to hit France

Breitbart, the anti-immigration, anti-EU, anti-establishment US news site that supported Donald Trump is to launch in France with one job in mind - help get Marine Le Pen elected president. And her party are thrilled.

French far right eager for US site Breitbart to hit France
Will Breitbart claim another victory by helpign Marine Le Pen get elected? Photo: AFP

A leader of France's far-right National Front said Tuesday that she welcomed reported plans by ultra-conservative US website Breitbart News to expand in France and support the party's presidential campaign.

Breitbart News, whose anti-elite, anti-immigration agenda has made it popular with white supremacists, is credited with helping propel Donald Trump to the White House.

Trump named the executive chairman of the platform, Steve Bannon, as his chief strategist at the weekend.

Marion Marechal-Le Pen, whose aunt Marine is the leader of the National Front (FN), told AFP on Tuesday that she would be happy to work with Breitbart if they came to France.

“All alternative media are generally positive. Donald Trump is the demonstration of that… they're among the useful tools,” the 26-year-old parliamentarian told AFP on a visit to Moscow.

Bannon called Marechal-Le Pen a “rising star” in an interview with French website in July and said Breitbart was hoping to open a Paris bureau, or start a French version.

The site's editor-in-chief, 30-year-old Alexander Marlow, told The New York Times that the site's expansion was linked to elections next year in Germany and France, where Breitbart intends to support Marine Le Pen.

The site launched in Britain in 2013 after seeing a “business opportunity” in the campaign to leave the European Union.

During the Brexit campaign Breitbart's te site's London editor took a brief leave of absence from the site to advise Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit movement.

Breitbart sees a similar opportunity in France.

“There's an under-served readership” in Europe, Marlow was quoted as saying in an article published on Sunday. “It's the same readers who had been ignored in Britain and had been ignored in the United States.”

Marine Le Pen, among France's most popular politicians, is forecast by pollsters to win or come second in the first round of French presidential elections in April next year.

She would then face a second-round run-off against a rival candidate, most likely from the centre-right, which she is expected to lose, according to polls.

Le Pen has worked hard to try to make the FN more acceptable to mainstream voters, shedding its overtly anti-Semitic and racist image under the party's former leader, her father Jean-Marie.

Her platform remains focused on restricting immigration, fighting against Islamic fundamentalism and withdrawing France from the European Union.

She welcomed Trump's stunning victory last week, saying his rise signalled the “building of a new world” and a blow against “unfettered globalisation” and the world elite.

Marechal-Le Pen told AFP on Tuesday that there had been “some small contacts for some time” between the FN and the Trump campaign.



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France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition

France wants to reach a deal with the US on taxing tech giants by a G7 meeting in late August, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Saturday.

France aims for US digital tax deal by late August, despite Trump opposition
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire. Photo: AFP

He was responding to US President Donald Trump, who on Friday vowed “substantial” retaliation against France for a law passed this month on taxing digital companies even if their headquarters are elsewhere.

The law would affect US-based global giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, among others.

Trump denounced French President Emmanuel Macron's “foolishness”, though they discussed the issue by phone on Friday, according to the White House.

Macron confirmed that he had a “long” conversation with Trump, stressing the pair would “continue to work together in view of the G7”.

“We will discuss international taxation, trade and collective security”, he said Saturday.

His office earlier said Macron had told Trump that the tax on the tech giants was not just in France's interest but was something they both had a stake in.

Neither side revealed if they had also discussed Trump's threat to tax French wines in retaliation.

Le Maire took the same line at a news conference Saturday: “We wish to work closely with our American friends on a universal tax on digital activities.

“We hope between now and the end of August — the G7 heads of state meeting in Biarritz — to reach an agreement.”

Leaders of the Group of Seven highly industrialised countries are to meet in the southwestern French city on August 24-26.

Le Maire emphasised that “there is no desire to specifically target American companies,” since the three-percent tax would be levied on revenues generated from services to French consumers by all of the world's largest tech firms, including Chinese and European ones. 

But Deputy White House spokesman Judd Deere noted earlier that France's digital services tax was already the subject of an investigation at the US Trade Representative's office, potentially opening the door to economic sanctions.

“The Trump administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against US-based firms,” Deere said in a statement. 

The French law aims to plug a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in European countries where they make huge profits, because their legal base is in smaller EU states.

France has said it would withdraw the tax if an international agreement was reached, and Paris hopes to include all OECD countries by the end of 2020.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a Paris-based forum that advises the world's advanced economies.

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