Tories and Brexit supporters back far-right Marine Le Pen to become French president, poll finds

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Conservative and Brexit supporters want far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become France’s president in this weekend’s election, according to a poll.

The leader of the National Rally (RN) – formerly the National Front – is supported by 37% of conservative voters in the last election, while only 24% support the centrist Emmanuel Macron.

The margin is even wider among Leave voters in the 2016 Brexit referendum, who favor Ms Le Pen over the current president by 35% to 19%.

The two will face off in a critical second round on Sunday, with polls putting Mr Macron just six points clear of his rival.

The RN leader has sought to soften her public image from their last clash five years ago, but the party is widely criticized as still racist and xenophobic.

Ms Le Pen has pledged to ban the Muslim headscarf from public spaces, calling it a “uniform of totalitarian ideology”, while saying it is not “the most urgent element” of his program.

She promised a referendum on immigration, to create a “France for the French” – where natives would have priority over non-French people for benefits, housing, jobs and health care.

And it would remove the right of children born in France to foreign parents to obtain French nationality as teenagers.

Ms Le Pen has abandoned previous promises to pull France – a founding member of the EU and its second-biggest economy – out of the euro and out of the EU itself.

But observers say his policies on the economy, social policy and immigration involve breaking the rules of the 27-member bloc, destroying it from within.

The strong correlation between support for Ms Le Pen and the Tories is seen as evidence of how Boris Johnson has exploited similar ‘populist’ sentiment.

Across the UK population, Mr Macron is by far the preferred candidate, pollsters YouGov found, 37% against 19% for the leader of the RN.

However, as many as 44 per cent of the public answered “don’t know”, suggesting widespread ignorance of politics across the Channel.

Remain and Labor voters overwhelmingly support the incumbent president, by 62% to 7% and 53% to 8%, respectively.

Ms Le Pen is making her third attempt to become president, having taken over the far-right anti-immigration National Front from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2018, she renamed it Rassemblement national and focused this year’s campaign on the cost-of-living crisis, which is the main concern of French voters.

She pledged to cut VAT on fuel and energy from 20% to 5.5%, abolish income tax for everyone under 30, and privatize public service broadcasting.

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