French Right flirts with own version of EU referendum


Marine Le Pen, the head of France's far-right Front National has predictably welcomed Britain's vote to leave the European Union and has promised the French people a similar 'in-out' referendum if she is elected president. However, the idea of holding some form of referendum is also now gaining ground among presidential hopefuls on the mainstream Right, even if they are unwilling to give voters a straight choice between staying in or leaving the institution that France helped found. Aurélie Delmas reports on how the French Right is now extolling the virtues of national sovereignty in the wake of the Brexit vote.

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Coming as it did less than a year before France's presidential election, and five months from their own primary to choose a candidate, the French Right was a little disoriented by the British vote to leave the European Union. While not tearing up their existing proposals on Europe – which already anticipated a slimmed-down Europe – the main candidates for the primary this autumn have since been scrambling to win the ear of French eurosceptics by adding a more nationalistic tone to their speeches. Meanwhile Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the right-wing Les Républicains (LR), called an extraordinary meeting of the party's policy bureau on Monday devoted to the issue of Brexit and its likely consequences.