French felt Zemmour receives muted reception in London – POLITICO

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LONDON – There was no ecstatic crowd, no enthusiastic chanting when Eric Zemmour visited London. Instead, the far-right brand with presidential ambitions spoke to a few hundred French expats at a lackluster hotel conference center, pondered constitutional law at length, and made confused statements about the return. French people living abroad.

His two-day visit to London got off to a bad start when the Royal Institution canceled an event two days ahead of schedule. Zemmour, whose rise to power could seriously undermine Marine Le Pen’s hopes of becoming president next year, has also not met any British politician – or at least no one would publicly admit to having met him.

On stage Friday, Zemmour, who is officially on a book promotion tour, tried to shed light on the difficulties.

“We were to meet in the prestigious Royal Institution and here we are in an Ibis hotel,” he joked. “I guess it suits our Republican spirit, we cut off kings’ heads after all.”

In an hour-long speech and Q&A, Zemmour touched on the doomed pro-European ambitions of the French elite, the entrepreneurial spirit of expatriates and, of course, Brexit.

“I think [Brexit] showed the vitality of the British people, who have chosen to take their destiny back into their own hands, ”he told the crowd. “They have decided not to submit to European judges, to European technocrats.

“The British political class was tempted to ignore the democratic vote and ultimately did not, and this is admirable,” said Zemmour, who does not support a Frexit but wants to ignore the decisions of the EU on immigration and state aid.

Visiting London was also an opportunity for Zemmour to attack one of his usual scarecrows: the European Union. In an interview with The telegraph, Zemmour warned that “without France, the EU is dead”, arguing that Brussels would bow to France’s will.

“If necessary, I would close our borders with Italy or Spain, whatever the Schengen Treaty says”, he added.

In the London audience, many said they shared his strong stance on immigration and his take on patriotism, but were hesitant about his run for president or disappointed with his performance.

“I love that he is such a character, even if some of his words are exaggerated,” said Samantha, a French tax expert living in London who declined to give her last name. “But I’m waiting to see his manifesto … I’m not completely behind him.”

“He was affectionate with expats… answered questions in style and is very genuine,” said Lydik Grynfeltt, who works in human resources, “but the audience was quite calm, the reactions a bit limited. is a pity. “

Officially, Zemmour is not yet a presidential candidate but, according to the POLITICO poll, he is on his way to 15% of the vote in the first round, just behind Le Pen with 17%, with Emmanuel Macron with 24%.

Money, money, money

The trip to London may not have gone as planned for Zemmour, but there was another big reason to cross the Channel … money, or more specifically campaign finance at a time when the French banks are reluctant to lend to politicians.

During his visit, Zemmour participated in several lunches and dinners with up to 20 potential donors each time, according to a member of the campaign fundraising team. “A lot of them are disappointed donors to Emmanuel Macron,” the team member said, adding that they were receiving a mix of big and small contributions, “as much as Macron in 2017”.

In the audience during his remarks, potential donors said they were considering opening their wallets for Zemmour.

“I do not exclude [supporting his campaign] but I don’t know enough about his proposals, ”said a banker who refused to give his name for professional reasons. “It’s up to him to present a more structured manifesto.

“I think that’s why he hasn’t announced his candidacy yet, he’s buying time because he’s not yet up to date with economics and he’s trying to laugh at that.”

Time is running out, however. On Saturday, Zemmour gave the clearest indication to date that he is running for the French presidency.

He wrote on Twitter “On December 5th the next page of history begins [with a rally in Paris]. Come write it with me.

A member of his team confirmed that the tweet meant that Zemmour would have announced his candidacy in time for the rally in Paris.



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