“The numbers are horrible,” he says of migration – both legal and illegal. Fixing it would be his number one priority, he insists. First, he says, by making France much less welcoming to immigrants who arrive legally (400,000 of them each year, he says, although the number is fiercely contested). “I would do away with family immigration,” he said, “you have to take away all these rights they have over the state. It is up to the state to decide who should come. Asylum would be granted to “a few people at most each year”. Illegal immigration, he says, is a “game of merry-go-round in which they are regularized anyway.” Such changes would be submitted to the French people in a referendum, he promises.
As for illegal immigration, he would gladly build a wall if he had to, he said, echoing Donald Trump, the man he is most often compared to, albeit in truth with his tiny figure, his nasal voice and his obvious skill and calculation, he is quite another beast to the sculptural ex-president. “I congratulate Poland for wanting to build a wall,” he said. “If necessary, I would close our borders with Italy or Spain, whatever the Schengen Treaty says.”
“Without France, the EU is dead”
What about the objections from Brussels? “Without France, the EU is dead. Brussels, he said, will bow to his will, and to the will of France. Britain’s difficulty in securing concessions was that we were not in the euro or the Schengen area, which made our departure painful, but not fatal. He therefore fully expects to be able to “send them home” – immigrants whom he has often accused of “theft, rape, murder”. It’s a catchy phrase in French “thefts, rapes, assassins”, and it’s an example of Zemmour, who had a brief career in advertising, always being able to come up with a memorable slogan – though , as in this case as in a dozen others, she referred him to French judges for incitement to hatred.
He does not care. In fact, like our own Prime Minister who, the Brussels correspondent of this newspaper, once said that he had become addicted to the outrage of the people (“throwing those stones over the garden wall .. I listened to this incredible crash from the greenhouse next door ”), Zemmour also admits to being enthusiastic about the controversy. In his recent book, he describes being struck off as “a far-right polemicist” after airing the regular political television show which, since 2019, has made a name for itself. Far from being defeated, the criticism was a major triumph. “In our team, the atmosphere was euphoric.
The scandal attracts attention and popularity. It is therefore sometimes difficult to know if he is serious, this bookish character, who professes his love and his deep knowledge of the history of France, when he makes surprisingly daring promises: to get France out of NATO (“it does not serve nothing now, just there to serve the allies of the United States. France is not America’s pocket dog “); despise the European Court of Human Rights (“I don’t want to leave the EU, but they can’t do without us.”) France under his leadership would become “a non-aligned country, as they said in the Cold War”.
What is certain is that, fueled by such rhetoric, he has emerged out of nowhere since the summer to become Emmanuel Macron’s main rival ahead of the presidential election next April.