Marine Le Pen grills Macron over energy cuts during election debate
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Tomorrow, France goes to the polls to decide between giving incumbent President Emmanuel Macron another five-year term or making his far-right rival Ms Le Pen the first French female President in history. Most polls are projecting that Mr Macron will win by a narrow margin against the National Rally leader, after he came out on top in a marathon debate between the two candidates on Wednesday. However, given how notoriously difficult French elections are to call, France, and indeed the whole of the West, will be waiting with bated breath to see who will claim the keys to the Elysée.
Pundits believe a Ms Le Pen presidency would spell problems for the EU, given the candidate’s desire to reform the bloc from the inside and put French needs first.
Ms Le Pen’s previous ties with Putin have also stirred fears she could undermine the West’s efforts in acting against the Russian leader since his invasion of Ukraine.
However, Rainbow Murray, a professor at Queen Mary University of London who specialises in French politics, stressed that a Ms Le Pen presidency would further tarnish Anglo-French relations, as the National Rally leader has “no desire” to strengthen ties with the UK.
She told Express.co.uk: “Up until the invasion of Ukraine she was looking to Russia for her alliances and we can’t be guaranteed that that would stop.
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“It’s not politically acceptable right now to be openly pro-Russia but I think generally that’s where her sympathies lie.
“She admires Putin, she agrees with Putin ideologically and I think that will make things harder for the UK in terms of its own understanding of what it means to be a player in this new world order outside the European Union.
“I don’t think she has any desire to do the UK any favours.
“I don’t think she sees us as an ally; I don’t think she sees us as a friend.
“The devil that we know [in Mr Macron], however devilish he may be, is better than the alternative from a UK perspective.”
Ms Le Pen’s ties with Putin are well documented, with the French far-right leader having met him at the Kremlin in the build up to the 2017 election.
Three years earlier Ms Le Pen was one of the few Western political voices to throw support behind the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea while in the same year her party received millions in funding from a prominent Russian bank.
According to Prof Murray, Ms Le Pen would also undermine the Western world’s approach to the Ukraine invasion as she wants to withdraw from NATO.
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Ms Le Pen would also support the UK’s Brexit strategy of strengthening ties with the US.
Prof Murray continued: “I also think it would be a huge problem in terms of Ukraine and the withdrawal of any support to NATO ‒ that [goes against] the path that Boris Johnson’s been very keen to follow.
“And more broadly a mainstay of the UK’s Brexit strategy is to look for a stronger alliance with the US and that’s not what Le Pen wants.
“She doesn’t like the US and she’s hostile to the Americanisation of things.”
Last year, France and the UK were engaged in months of diplomatic tension over how to manage fishing waters after Brexit.
In November, as tempers were boiling over, Ms Le Pen warned Mr Macron: “We must raise our voice with the UK.”
She accused Mr Macron’s administration of “repeating threats without ever acting” and told reporters: “Either you don’t speak or you act”.
Prof Murray added: “I think a [Ms Le Pen presidency] would further diminish Anglo-French relations.
“There’s no love loss between Macron and the UK Government but Le Pen would create a host of other problems.”
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