Le Pen to speak at British far-right dinner

20th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, April 19 (AFP) - Jean-Marie Le Pen, firebrand leader of France's far-right National Front (FN) party, is to speak at a private dinner this weekend organised by the British National Party, a BNP spokesman said Monday.

LONDON, April 19 (AFP) - Jean-Marie Le Pen, firebrand leader of France's far-right National Front (FN) party, is to speak at a private dinner this weekend organised by the British National Party, a BNP spokesman said Monday.

Le Pen, whose party opposes immigration into France, will be speaking Sunday at the BNP event in Birmingham, Britain's second largest city, BNP press officer Phil Edwards told AFP.

"It's to show our solidarity with our friends in Europe," Edwards explained. "Jean-Marie Le Pen is a very successful politician in an anti-immigration party, like ours, in France."

Asked what impact Le Pen's presence might cause in Birmingham, home to some of Britain's biggest immigrant and ethnic communities, Edwards replied: "I don't care less if it's controversial."

"It's not being done to cause any problems," he said. "It's a private function to meet a person whose party we hope to support in the European elections" in June.

Doug Jewel, secretary of the Birmingham branch of the Trades Union Congress, Britain's main labour federation, said a rally to protest Le Pen's visit would be held on Sunday.

"There'll be speeches and music and dancing," said Jewel. "Then we'll picket peacefully outside the event, if it hasn't already been cancelled."

Le Pen shocked France by breaking through to second place in the 2002 presidential election. Since then, the FN has sought to style itself as a potential party of government rather than a protest movement.

© AFP

                                                               Subject: French news

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