French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Steve Bannon, a former advisor to US President Donald Trump, denounced the UN migration compact at an event hosted by Vlaams Belang in the Flemish parliament in Brussels on Saturday (8 December).
Bannon was the guru behind Trump’s campaign for the US presidency in 2016, which earned him the post of chief strategist, a new position in the White House until his boss dumped him after seven months in office.
Bannon has been trying to gather populist forces from across Europe for several months, including Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy, Geerts Wilders PVV in the Netherlands, the National Rally of Marine Le Pen in France, and in Belgium, the separatist Vlaams Belang.
In the summer Bannon announced that he was setting up a foundation in Europe called The Movement, which he hopes will lead a right-wing populist revolt across the continent, starting with the European Parliament elections next spring.
The main messages of the Vlams Belang-hosted event were against the UN Global Migration Compact, which destabilised Belgium’s coalition government.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 member UN nations except the United States, which backed out last year, and is due to be ratified formally in December.
The pact was conceived after the biggest influx of migrants into Europe since World War Two, many of them fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
But in recent months, opposition to the pact has been growing, with critics saying that it makes no distinction between legal and illegal migration.
“The UN Migration Pact is dead even before it is signed,” said Bannon at the rostrum of the Flemish Parliament, before rejoicing to have leaders like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen or Viktor Orbán “who dare to say we do not want this pact”.
Marine Le Pen criticizes UN migration pact of #Marrakesh.
Picture: Steve Bannon (former Chief Strategist US pres. Trump) and Tom Van Grieken (head of Flemish conservative party Vlaams Belang).https://t.co/VkZLeWrrrs
— NewsBlog breaking (@NBbreaking) December 8, 2018
“The country that signs the pact obviously signs a pact with the devil,” Le Pen said.
The French far-right leader, much applauded during her speech, said that the wind of history was favorable to her force at the next European elections of 26 May. She said that for the first time, it was possible to envisage an alternative to the current leadership of Europe and to replace “staggering leaders” like Jean-Claude Juncker, she said.
The far-right Flemish party also had some messages for its Belgian rival, the right-wing N-VA, as both hope to capitalise on anti-migrant sentiment.
“The purpose of this meeting is clear: to place this suicidal pact where it should be, in the trash”, commented the president of Vlaams Belang, Tom Van Grieken, before accusing N-VA of “doing nothing” to prevent the migration pact.
The N-VA opposed the compact and has pulled out of the federal government.
“By widening its political arena internationally with Steve Bannon and Marine Le Pen, Vlaams Belang gains in political credibility”, the RTBF quoted analyst Régis Dandoy, who stated that usually, this is a movement centered on Flanders. “[Vlaams Belang] wants to show to voters that he is able to have relations with other countries, such as the United States, France or Hungary”, Dandoy said.