France's Le Pen would accept exit of rival on euro issue

AP News
Posted: May 22, 2017 12:41 PM
France's Le Pen would accept exit of rival on euro issue

PARIS (AP) — Tensions are mounting between French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and her National Front party's No. 2 figure over whether the party should abandon its push to quit the shared euro currency.

Le Pen, who lost France's presidential runoff earlier this month to Emmanuel Macron, acknowledged Monday that leaving the euro worries many French. The topic is not on the party's agenda for France's two-part June 11 and June 18 legislative election.

Le Pen is running for a parliamentary seat in next month's elections, but her party is facing divisions. National Front No. 2 Florian Philippot threatened again Monday to quit the party if it drops the euro exit plan.

Le Pen, meanwhile, told France-Info television that she doesn't consider Philippot's warning "blackmail" and said it would be "to his credit" if Philippot followed his convictions and left.

Philippot criticized the party's communications on the euro issue, notably Le Pen's suggestion late in the presidential campaign of keeping the euro for some transactions but not for others.

"We made French people think they would have two currencies in their wallets, which was not true, that was never our ambition," Philippot said Monday on Radio Classique. "That stressed everyone out."

The subject of the euro — which is used by 19 European nations — is to be dealt with at a future National Front party congress. No date has been set.

Le Pen said a "major subject" in France's parliamentary campaign is German Chancellor Angela Merkel's insistence on austerity measures.

Le Pen also said in five years she would run for the French presidency again if she's best placed for the race, but if someone else is in a better spot "I'll cede my place."

Le Pen came in second in the 2017 presidential race and did not make the runoff in the 2012 presidential race.