French National Front ‘congratulates’ Cameron on multiculturalism speech

By Ian Dunt

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France far-right National Front party, has praised David Cameron’s multicultural speech.

In a move which is likely to significantly increase the pressure on the prime minister, Ms Le Pen argued that the speech marked a significant rightward shift across Europe.

“It is exactly this type of statement that has barred us from public life for 30 years,” she told the Financial Times.

“I sense an evolution at European level, even in classic governments. I can only congratulate him.”

The comment is unlikely to be welcomed in Downing Street, which is still fighting off criticism of the speech after it coincided with an English Defence League (EDL) march in Luton.

Many commentators took issue with that piece of timing, after several members of the march concluded Mr Cameron was backing their far-right views.

Mr Cameron argued for a policy of “muscular liberalism” and branded multiculturalism a failure.

That view has become increasingly prevalent across Europe, with German chancellor Angela Merkel saying multiculturalism had “utterly failed” her country in a speech last year.

Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, whose long shadow dominated French far-right politics for a generation, is being touted as a significant new force on the right of French politics.

More moderate than her father, with liberal views on issues such as gay rights, Ms Le Pen is nevertheless ferociously anti-immigration. Many backers think her less combative style could result in electoral success.