FRANCE’S National Front (FN) last night suspended founder Jean-Marie Le Pen over a series of inflammatory remarks and a feud with his daughter and party leader Marine.
Mr Le Pen had earlier refused to appear before the disciplinary board of the far-right party’s executive, called by his daughter.
His role as honorary FN president is now “under review”, the party said.
The executive met yesterday in Nanterre, near Paris, to decide what action to take after Mr Le Pen repeated his assertion that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail of history”.
Ms Le Pen said before the meeting he should “no longer be able to speak in the name of the National Front”.
As he left the building yesterday without appearing before the executive board, her father said: “I’ve been disowned.
“I’ve never spoken in the name of the FN. I speak freely and that shocks a certain number of people.”
As well as reviving an old antisemitic slur, he told far-right newspaper Rivarol last month that he had never considered France’s wartime collaborationist leader Philippe Petain a traitor and labelled prime minister Manuel Valls an immigrant.
Ahead of the disciplinary decision, the party’s broader political bureau said it “disapproves of the comments made and reiterated by Jean-Marie Le Pen”, and affirmed its confidence in his daughter, to ensure “nothing can divert [the party] from its goal of gaining power in the service of France and the French”.
Mr Le Pen founded the FN in 1972 and led it until 2011. But his daughter has tried to steer it away from its racist, antisemitic past.
His granddaughter Marion Marechal Le Pen, an FN MP, attended the executive meeting.
The FN’s disciplinary board could have imposed a range of sanctions on the 86-year-old former leader, who remains a member of the European Parliament. Among the options was his total exclusion from the FN, although some French commentators had suggested he could be more of a risk outside the party than if he were contained within it.
Mr Le Pen said he had his place and his office. “I’ll go there unless they stop me coming,” he said.
But his daughter was adamant in a broadcast interview on Sunday that she wanted him out of the political picture.
“What I wish is that the FN will no longer be taken hostage by provocations that are now becoming recurrent on the part of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” she said.
She also said she had the feeling her father could not bear the thought of the party continuing to carry on without him as leader.
Although he was sidelined from the party’s traditional 1 May march on Friday, he took to the stage in an act of defiance while his daughter was delivering a speech.
Last month, in the face of widespread party opposition, he abandoned a plan to lead a party list in regional elections in southern France.
The FN has made significant political strides since Ms Le Pen took over the leadership, attempting to sweep away its extremist image but maintaining its anti-immigration policies.
She is aiming to make the run-off vote for the French presidency in 2017.