French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has publicly criticised far-right rival Marine Le Pen in a bitter attack, saying the Front National leader “betrays” France’s historical values.
Speaking at a rally of round 8,000 people in Lyon on Saturday, the former economy minister appeared to mock Ms Le Pen’s campaign slogan ‘In the name of the people’, claiming she and her far-right predecessors spoke “in the names of their bitterness”.
Without actually mentioning the Front National leader by name, Mr Macron said: “Some today pretend to be talking in the name of the people, but they are just ventriloquists.
In a clear reference to Ms Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie and niece Marion, he proceeded to say: ”They don’t speak in the name of the people, they speak in the name of their bitterness, they speak for themselves, from father to daughter and daughter to niece.
“They betray liberty by shrinking our horizons, they betray equality by stating that some are more equal than others, they betray fraternity because they hate the faces that don’t look like theirs.”
Marine Le Pen was also in Lyon this weekend, revealing her 144 “commitments” for France
No wall here
“I am not going to say that the left or right is meaningless, that they are the same thing, but are these divisions not a hurdle?” he asked, seeking to portray himself as a unifier.
“I want to reconcile the two Frances that have been growing apart for too long.”
“I want a more European defence, partnerships between France and Germany,” he added.
He also appeared to mock US President Donald Trump’s policy of building a wall with Mexico, likening it to France’s row of fortifications which failed to stop Hitler in 1940.
“I don’t want to build a wall. I can assure you there’s no wall in my programme. Can you remember the Maginot Line?”
Odile Ducloux, a 63-year-old retired teacher, told AFP news agency she was attending her first En Marche meeting.
“I used to vote Socialist but my husband has been saying for years that we have to overcome the left-right division and thanks to Emmanuel Macron, I am convinced,” she said.
‘Move to France’
Mr. Macron also called on US scientists, academics and entrepreneurs at odds with Donald Trump’s administration to move to France.
“I want all those who today embody innovation and excellence in the United States to hear what we say: from now on, from next May, you will have a new homeland – France,”
Without naming Trump in his campaign speech in the southeastern city of Lyon, Macron, a former investment banker, said his “solemn call” was intended for all “researchers, academics and companies in the United States fighting obscurantism and who are afraid today” to join the land of innovation he wants France to be.