National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen’s top aide Florian Philippot resigned Thursday after an internal feud over the party’s direction moving forward.
FN moved to fire Philippot from his role as the head of the party’s strategy and communications Wednesday. He retained his title as vice president but had no portfolio to work with. The split emerged after Philippot refused to give up his role as president of The Patriots, the party’s internal think tank.
“They told me that I was the vice president of nothing,” Philippot, who is a member of the European Parliament, told France 2. “I don’t like ridicule, and I have never liked doing nothing, so of course I am leaving the National Front.”
Philippot has long been one of Le Pen’s closest allies. She declared that she had an “intellectual crush” on Philippot as recently as last year, but the two have grown apart since Le Pen’s election defeat to Emmanuel Macron in May. Le Pen called for a calm Thursday and told people to stop exaggerating the situation.
“One should stop trying to bury the National Front,” she told LCP television, according to Reuters. “Every time people have tried to do it, it came out better-structured, stronger and more powerful.”
Le Pen recently announced a relaunch of the party scheduled for early next year. She is reportedly ready to drop plans to exit the eurozone, which has been a longstanding cornerstone in the party’s platform, as well as change the party’s name.
“The great enterprise of refounding the national movement to which I invite you … but also all French people, is inspired only by duty: the duty to take action and to win so that France can remain France for its children and for the world,” Le Pen told supporters Sept. 9 in the village of Brachay, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur. “The new organization will bear a new name which we can discuss during our exchanges and which will be chosen by you.”