Bannon tells French far-right: 'Let them call you racist'

Key Points
  • Steve Bannon tells the French National Front to embrace accusations of racism.
  • The former White House strategist was unveiled as a surprise speaker at a party event.
  • Bannon also said Trump is pivoting toward economic nationalism.
Getty Images | Sylvain Lefevre

Former Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon has told a far-right gathering in France that accusations of racism should be considered a "badge of honor."

"Let them call you racists," the one-time White House chief strategist said at a National Front Party conference in Lille on Saturday.

"Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor," Bannon added as he spoke in front of an unfurled American flag.

Bannon was announced as a surprise speaker at the event as he continued a tour of European cities.

He also told the National Front crowd that "the globalists have no answers to freedom" before he ended his presentation with: "God bless America and vive la France."

At a news conference following his speech, Bannon said frequent staff departures from Trump's administration represented a clash with the president's core agenda.

"I think President Trump has been pretty straightforward in saying, hey, when we first started, some of these advisers are what he would call globalists, and he's clearly pivoting to more economic nationalism," Bannon said.

Bannon himself was removed from his role as White House chief strategist in August 2017, leading some commentators to suggest that Trump was pivoting toward a globalist outlook.

Separately at the event, the National Front leader Marine Le Pen proposed changing her party's name to "National Rally."

Le Pen said the name change represented a call out to people who had France in their hearts and to unite France "in defense of its identity."