The British government is refusing to speak to far-right French presidential candidate Le Pen

France's far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen attends a FN political debate in Paris, France, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Reuters / Benoit Tessier

Marine Le Pen

LONDON - The UK will not attempt to forge links with second-favourite French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, according to Britain's ambassador to France.

Lord Llewellyn told MPs that his staff had made contact with the other candidates in the race, but said the government observes a policy of non-engagement with Le Pen's far-right National Front party.

He told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee: "With respect to the Front National, we have a policy of not engaging - there is a longstanding policy. That is the policy, which has been the policy for many years."
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When Conservative MP Crispin Blunt expressed surprise that the government wasn't engaging with a candidate currently polling in second place in France, Llewellyn said that any policy change would be a "matter for ministers."

Le Pen has led extensive efforts to detoxify the far-right party founded by her father, and campaigns on a populist platform of quitting the Euro and slashing immigration. She is widely expected to make the final voting runoff in May, which will pit her against either centre-right François Fillon or left-leaning Emmanuel Macron, or the as-yet unselected socialist candidate.

Fillon currently leads the field in terms of voting intention, with Le Pen in second, although tactical voting by moderates could ensure that Le Pen finishes the race in third.
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