Dr David Lees on Boris Johnson's relationship with Zemmour
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Éric Zemmour criticised the dominance of the English language in engagements involving EU leaders as “voluntary servitude”. If England the country is out of the EU, the language of England should be kicked out too, he argued.
Mr Zemmour, a former journalist, is pinned as the main challenger to the more established, National Rally politician Marine Le Pen.
He is perhaps best known for his position on immigration. “Immigration is war,” he said in an interview with the Spectator.
But as well as seeking to defend France’s border, Mr Zemmour sees himself as the defender of his country’s language.
He told BMF TV: “If the President of the French Republic does not defend his own language, who will?”
As French President, he would “ask that European meetings stop being systematically in English”.
Mr Zemmour added: “There are other languages in Europe.
“There is French, there is German, there are great languages in Europe and we don’t need to speak English now that the English are no longer here.”
He accused Britain – “as usual” – of failing to stick to its promise, which he claimed to have been made half a century ago, of allowing French to remain the language of single market.
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Mr Zemmour insisted that his position was not simply a result of the fact he speaks English “very badly”.
Nathalie Loiseau MEP quipped in response: “As Umberto Eco said, the language of Europe is translation.”
This is not the first time the French have pushed for English to be de-ranked in the halls of European power.
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Late last year, the European Court of Auditors held its first press conference in English only following a vote.
The institution voted 26 to one to work solely in English. Only France voted against.
While hostile on the point of English being the stand language for European meetings, Presidential hopeful Mr Zemmour has, on a number of occasions, spoken positively about Brexit.
In November, he, quoted in POLITICO, said: “I think [Brexit] showed the vitality of the British people, who chose to take control of their destiny again.
“They decided to stop submitting themselves to European judges, to European technocrats.”
Mr Zemmour is critical of the EU and wishes to see the bloc hand certain powers back to France, but is not, himself, an open advocate of ‘Frexit’.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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