During an event to promote his new book in London on Friday, France’s far-right presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour attempted to woo French voters living in the British capital, Reuters reported.
Zemmour, 63, an ultra-nationalist TV pundit who has made no secret of his desire to run for president in April’s election, spoke to a packed room of 400 at a hotel in Earls Court.
“You are the best of France, you are audacious to leave your country and I am proud of you,” he told the crowd, which included wealthy businessmen and children according to Reuters.
Some 165,000 French citizens live in the United Kingdom, the report said, citing the UK Office of National Statistics.
He praised Britain for leaving the European Union, but dodged multiple questions about whether he would advocate for France to make a similar move.
Zemmour, whose parents were Jewish immigrants to France from Algeria, spoke at the Ibis Hotel after a charity canceled an event because of his convictions for hate speech.
The Royal Institution, which has Prince Charles as a patron, said it would not allow its premises to be used by the anti-immigration and anti-Islam pundit.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is of Pakistani origin, also denounced him, saying: “Nobody who wants to divide our communities, or incite hatred against people because the colour of our skin or the God they worship, is welcome in our city.”
Several French protesters gathered outside the venue Zemmour was speaking at on Friday, accusing him of hate speech.
Recently, support has fallen for Zemmour, despite him having yet to formally declare his candidacy, according to a new poll that came amid reports of tensions in his campaign team.
Sources inside Zemmour’s campaign team have told French media of doubts about his capabilities in organizing a presidential bid, which requires fundraising and the official endorsement of at least 500 elected French officials.
Analysts say the election race remains highly unpredictable this far out, with Zemmour yet to officially declare his candidacy and the right-wing Republicans party still waiting to anoint a nominee.