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Wear ‘racist’ as a badge of honour, says former Trump strategist Bannon

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Related Story: Rejected by his beloved Breitbart, Bannon's fall is now complete

"Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honour."

Key points:

  • Mr Bannon was invited to speak at France's National Front party congress
  • He told supporters they were part of a "worldwide movement"
  • Appearance comes as president Marine Le Pen works to rebrand the far-right party

That was the message Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon had for France's far-right National Front party at their party congress in Lille on Saturday (local time).

The former Breitbart News chairman spoke at the event at the request of the party's president Marine Le Pen, who is seeking a revival after her crushing defeat to independent, pro-globalisation Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential election.

She called Mr Bannon "the architect of Donald Trump's victory" and an "important voice" on globalisation and protectionism.

For Mr Bannon, it was another stop on his European tour, where he is hoping to spread his closed-borders message after being sacked from the White House following the publication of Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury.

"You're part of a worldwide movement bigger than France, bigger than Italy," Mr Bannon told the supporters.

"History is on our side".

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon speaks on stage at a National Front convention.

Bannon admired National Front before US election

Mr Bannon was an early admirer of the National Front, whose long-standing "French First" motto rallied French voters for years before Mr Trump's "America First" campaign.

But the party has never won the French presidency and is now working hard to make itself relevant again.

To do so, Ms Le Pen —whose father co-founded the National Front in 1972 — wants to unveil a new name, a new leadership structure, and new bylaws at the two-day congress.

She said the changes amounted to a "cultural revolution" and would help the party "implant itself, create alliances and govern".

"We're at a turning point … don't bury us," she said in an interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper published on Friday.

But some have warned that Mr Bannon's support could damage Ms Le Pen's efforts to rebrand the party.

Since taking over the National Front's presidency in 2011, Ms Le Pen has also worked to broaden the party's appeal by erasing the footprint of her father, who has multiple convictions for racism and anti-Semitism.

Her success will be measured by how well the party performs at next year's European Union parliamentary elections.

ABC/AP

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