Le Pen pledges to axe immigrant education 

Le Pen pledges to axe immigrant education 

Marine Le Pen in the European Parliament in Strasbourg in 2014. Source: Wikipedia

France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen has called for an end to free education for the children of “illegal immigrants”.

The presidential hopeful for next year’s presidential election claimed that she had nothing against foreigners.

“But I tell them: if you come to our country don’t expect to be taken care of, to be looked after, that your children will be educated without charge. No more playtime,” she said.

Le Pen last week incorrectly claimed that anyone over 65 could arrive in France and start receiving pensioners’ social security payments.

Polls suggest Le Pen will probably qualify for the second round of May’s election, where she is expected to face Republican Francois Fillon.

Polling suggests around two-thirds of voters would vote for Fillon in the deciding round. Le Pen took over the Front National six years ago from her divisive father.

However, she also said that foreigners using the state education system must be living in France legitimately and paying taxes. Le Pen has campaigned to cut legal immigration to 10,000 people a year and to block family reunions. In 2014, she spoke out against providing substitute meals for pork dishes in schools for Muslims and Jews.

Since 1881, free primary education has been a basic right for all children and right to education is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Education minister Najat Belkacem said Le Pen had demonstrated indifference to the plight of many children but she showed complete ignorance of French values and laws. Le Pen has tried to detoxify the FN’s extremist image and attract mainstream support.

Her presidential campaign does not use the party’s name and features a blue rose, borrowing imagery from both sides of the political spectrum. Now she is responding to right-of-centre Fillon by setting out distinctive policies.

Last week, she accused Fillion of being under the control of France’s business organisation, Medef, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, the banks and Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

She told broadcaster TF1 that she would put France back together in five years.

“I want to sort out the schools, France’s diplomacy and the economy” she said. Le Pen also said she wanted a referendum on French membership of the European Union.

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