Jonathan Miller Jonathan Miller

France’s provocateur is coming to London

Five years ago, London’s affluent French poured their dosh into the campaign of Emmanuel Macron. This time around, supporters of France’s rising provocateur are trying a similar tactic.

Eric Zemmour is the Tucker Carlson of French media. A potential rival to Marine Le Pen, he is planning a visit to London in October. His undeclared but badly concealed French presidential campaign has the backing of ‘Generation Z’, a shadowy group of French political consultants and fundraisers, who are looking at the monied expatriates of South Kensington and seeing potential campaign money.

If Macron’s people aren’t spooked by Zemmour, they aren’t acting like it

I profiled Zemmour in the magazine in March. His Jewish family fled Algeria during the war of independence, and he now makes a living frequently attacking Islamism on his nightly TV show, which consistently outperforms its rivals. His star appeal means that Marine Le Pen fears him, since he attracts many of her supporters who are increasingly doubtful of her third bid for the presidency.

Zemmour remains a long shot for the Elysée: his highest poll ratings tend to be around 13 per cent. But French presidential campaigns can produce unpredictable results and he has momentum. His new book, a manifesto, France Hasn’t Had its Last Word, is already the number one best seller on French Amazon, even though it won’t be published for two more weeks and is under the label of an almost unknown publisher.

And if Macron’s people aren’t spooked by Zemmour, they aren’t acting like it. A few days ago, the government’s spokesman Gabriel Attal said that Zemmour represented “France on its knees, France stunted, a spirit of permanent defeat.’ It’s true that Zemmour is a prophet of decline, but if he is politically irrelevant, then why bother commenting?

Zemmour’s visit to London will test his mettle.

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