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France

Le Pen's right-hand man Florian Philippot quits France's National Front

Florian Philippot has said "I don't like being ridiculed" amidst continuing turmoil in the far-right party. Philippot and Le Pen reportedly argued over his anti-euro sub-party "Les Patriotes."

Florian Philippot, the right-hand man of National Front leader Marine Le Pen said he was quitting the party on Thursday following a showdown with Le Pen over the direction of France's most prominent far-right party.

The former vice president of the anti-immigrant, euroskeptic party told broadcaster France 2: "I was told I was the vice president of effectively nothing. I don't like being ridiculed and I've no appetite for inaction either. And so yes, of course I am quitting the National Front."

Philippot and Le Pen, who was beaten by President Emmanuel Macron in the country's runoff presidential election in May, were reportedly deeply divided over Philippot's side project — a conservative movement called Les Patriotes seemingly inspired in part by the Republican Tea Party offshoot.

His stock in the party was also damaged by his hardline stance against the euro currency, a position which many in the National Front blame for Le Pen's loss to Macron and for the party's third-place finish in June's parliamentary elections.

Le Pen: We will continue to fight the EU

Responding to Philippot's move, Le Pen told LCP televsion that "the National Front will rebuild itself without difficulty."

"National sovereignty is the mainstay of our struggle," she added. "We will continue to fight the European Union with all our soul because it is an instrument for the elimination and impoverishment of our people."

Philippot's departure is the latest in a series of internal difficulties for the party, which Le Pen has been trying to steer into slightly less extremist waters after ousting her openly anti-Semitic father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen. These divisions are expected to come to a head at the party's next national convention, set for early 2018.

es/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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