Florian Philippot, a deprecated vice president, announced on Thursday (September 21st) that he was slamming the door of the party, refusing to leave the presidency of his association Les Patriotes as Marine Le Pen had asked him. Listen, I'm not into being ridiculed and I've never been into having nothing to do, and so, yes, of course I'm quitting the Front National.
FN moved to fire Philippot from his role as the head of the party's strategy and communications Wednesday. Le Pen called for a calm Thursday and told people to stop exaggerating the situation.
Mrs Le Pen, who pledged after losing the presidential race to Emmanuel Macron to be the "main voice of opposition" against the new centrist government, has been overshadowed of late by far-left rebel and former presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose working-class rhetoric and unabashed criticism of the young president have widened his support base.
Philippot claimed that the party's "old demons" were sneaking back into the party, a reference to hard right values.
Philippot's exit comes as the National Front is in the midst of a major makeover, to include changing the party's name that dates from its founding in 1972 by Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Robert Menard, the FN mayor of the southern town of Beziers and Ms Le Pen's partner Louis Aliot, also an MP, were among those who campaigned against Philippot. If he doesn't accept (to choose), I'll choose for him", Le Pen said, adding, "He's created a conflict of interest.
During the summer, party officials said that Philippot was less involved in day-to-day affairs after the defeat.
France's National Front is on the verge of a split between its leader and her chief deputy, four months after a heavy electoral defeat. "It's ideal", he said in reaction to Philippot's departure. He said the party is going backwards in a "terrifying" way. "All those who have taken this road and led a solitary adventure have disappeared", Le Pen said.
Sophie Montel, a MEP and party member for more than 20 years, revealed her decision on Twitter.