Marine Le Pen 'threatening Macron in elections' says expert

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The right-wing candidate has discussed plans for a radical overhaul of the immigration system if she wins in April and has reiterated her desire to hold a referendum on the divisive matter. Ms Le Pen, who will represent the Rassemblement National party, made it to the second round of voting in the 2017 election before losing out to Mr Macron’s La République En Marche.

In a campaign video, the 53-year-old pointed out the effect the UK leaving the European Union and taking back control of its borders had on increasing wages.

Ms Le Pen said: “One consequence of stopping immigration, especially illegal immigration, in Britain is an 8.8 percent increase in wages.

“Immigration is actually used to lower wages! I want to eliminate illegal work. It’s dumping.

“When a person accepts to work illegally, the whole salary scale of French people is obviously pressed down. This situation is not acceptable.”

The UK finally left the European Union at the end of the Brexit transition period last December.

Unlike France, the UK has now stopped the freedom of movement of people across the EU – and the Home Office has adopted an Australian-style points-based immigration system.

People wanting to live and work in Britain must meet a number of requirements, including the ability to speak English and have a job offer which meets a specific salary threshold.

Ms Le Pen has signalled she would be willing to adopt an even tougher set of rules – including sending foreign nationals back home if they are out of work for more than 12 months.

She said: “I don’t want to look for people working legally in France and expel them from the country.

“But with me, the criteria will be more difficult, more demanding, and if for example, you stay unemployed for more than a year, you will have to go back home because if you are unemployed for more than a year, it’s because there is no work for you.

“France has an incredible inability to match job offers with job demands. We have to work on that.

“There is a shortage of 40,000 drivers in France. How do you explain that? Because we face foreign competition.”

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Last month, Ms Le Pen confirmed she plans to hold a nationwide vote on immigration and is set to include steps to end asylum applications, freedom of movement and place curbs on the rights of migrants to join family members in France.

The draft bill would also give French citizens priority access to social housing, jobs and social security benefits.

Ms Le Pen said: “My first emblematic measure as president would be the referendum against immigration.

“It’s been 40 years since the French have been questioned on this essential subject that affects our life in society.

“I think that the French must express themselves. We must expel the illegal immigrants, the delinquents, and make the French masters of their own home, through the national priority and the primacy of the French constitution over European texts.

“With the referendum, everyone will be able to vote according to his or her own conscience on a subject that is essential for the future of France.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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