Andrew Marr Defends Interview With Far-Right French Leader Marine Le Pen

'In the end we are a news programme'

Andrew Marr has defended his decision to interview the leader of the far-right French National Front, Marine Le Pen, on his Sunday morning programme.

The BBC has been criticised for its decision to broadcast the interview on Remembrance Sunday and anti-fascist protesters demonstrated outside Broadcasting House this morning.

But Marr stood by the choice. “In the end we are a news programme and I don’t think the best way to honor the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge to Western security,” he told viewers.

“I know this morning some people are offended and upset that I have been to interview Marine Le Pen and we are showing this interview on Remembrance Sunday.

“I understand that, but I would say this: Le Pen could, under some circumstances, become the next French president in the spring. This week, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, she has declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand of politics is on the march, what does the mean?”

In the interview, Marr pressed Le Pen on her party as having a reputation of being racist - charge she denied. Le Pen also said there is not a “hair’s breadth” between it and Ukip. She said it was “ridiculous” for Nigel Farage and others in Ukip to pretend otherwise.

Appearing on the Marr programme before Le Pen, Jeremy Corbyn attacked the far-right French politician.

The Labour leader said of Le Pen’s claim Ukip and the French National Front were the same, the Labour leader said: “I think they probably are. They both attempt the same shallow populist, nasty appeal. Once you let this nasty thing out of the box called xenophobia and intolerance, it’s very hard to put it back.

“It’s up to the left, it’s up to democratic forces in society to say the only way forward is societies coming together.”

Ahead of the programme, several MPs criticised the BBC for conducting the interview with Le Pen.

Le Pen, who has led a number of polls ahead of next spring’s French presidential election, denied that her party is racist, claiming that was a charge from the “elites”.

The far right leader claimed that the rise of nationalism across Europe was not a mirror of the 1930s.

“What doesn’t work is when you impose the same drugs on everyone, when clearly, if you will, the different countries are not suffering from the same disease, or that you want everyone to wear the same suit, but the suit will be too small and too big for everyone, except possibly for Germany, as they tailored it.”

Le Pen predicted her election as French president next year will be the third act of a “global revolution” which has seen Brexit and Trump’s seizure of the White House shake the world.

The National Front lender defended her party borrowing money from Russian banks as she praised Vladimir Putin.

She said his model of politics is “one of reasoned protectionism, looking after the interests of his country, defending his identity”.

Le Pen blamed the EU and US for destabilising Europe and behaving aggressively towards Russia.