French EU lawmaker Collard joins far-right presidential candidate Zemmour

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PARIS, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Gilbert Collard, a member of the European Parliament, said on Saturday he was quitting Marine Le Pen’s National Rally to join far-right rival candidate Eric Zemmour, becoming Le Pen’s third ally. in one week to join Zemmour.

Last week, Jérôme Rivière, leader of Le Pen’s National Rally group in the European Parliament, and Damien Rieu, parliamentary assistant to another European National Rally legislator, also resigned to join Zemmour’s ranks. Read more

“I have nothing against Marine Le Pen… I agree with Eric Zemmour because of his ideas,” Collard said in an interview with France Bleu Gard Lozère.

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Former TV talk show host Zemmour and Le Pen are vying for the far-right vote, hoping to beat President Emmanuel Macron in the April election.

For several weeks last year, opinion polls indicated that Zemmour – who has been repeatedly convicted of inciting racial hatred – had a chance of coming in second in the presidential election and facing Macron in the of a second round. His campaign has since run out of steam and he is now fourth in the polls.

National Rally (RN) officials played down Collard’s departure, saying it would not affect Le Pen’s presidential candidacy.

“We haven’t seen much support from Collard for Marine’s campaign and in any case, the polls show that she is the one who can beat Macron,” RN spokesman Philippe Ballard told BFM.

Polls put Macron in the lead, followed by Le Pen or the conservative challenger Valérie Pécresse.

“The arrival of Gilbert Collard is a friend who joins us,” Zemmour said at a campaign meeting in Cannes.

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Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Claude Chendjou; Editing by Frances Kerry and Louise Heavens

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