Former Breitbart executive Steve Bannon is going to Europe.
Trump’s former White House chief advisor has announced he will be launching a new foundation called The Movement to help give a boost to the far-right. His foundation — which Bannon envisions as a rival to George Soros’ Open Society — will provide think tank research, polling services, advice on messaging, and data targeting.
Headquartered in Brussels, home of the European Parliament, Bannon told the Daily Beast he wants to unite the populists in a right-wing “supergroup” within the parliament. With Europe-wide elections to be held next May, Bannon predicts his group could bring together as many as a third of European lawmakers.
“A united populist bloc of that size would have the ability to seriously disrupt parliamentary proceedings, potentially granting Bannon huge power within the populist movement,” writes the Daily Beast. Bannon expects to spend about half his time in Europe following the United States’ midterm elections in November.
This isn’t the first time Bannon has shown interest in boosting Europe’s far-right. In March, he traveled to Rome to support candidate Matteo Salvini of La Lega party, who ran an anti-migrant, anti-EU “Italians First” campaign.
And following his trip to Italy, Bannon made a stop in France that same month to deliver a speech to far-right party the National Front lead by Marine Le Pen.
“Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists,” he told the party’s conference, the purpose of which was to discuss rebranding its image after it lost to Emmanuel Macron last year. His speech was met with mixed reviews.
Bannon has been credited, most notably, with influencing Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016. In a video clip filmed in March 2017, Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), is seen raising a pint to Bannon and Breitbart.
“Well done Bannon, well done Breitbart. You helped with this. Hugely,” Farage says following the triggering of Article 50 which officially began the Brexit process.
“Bannon hates the EU,” a former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro who split with Bannon (but shares the sentiment) told Politico last year. “He figures it’s mainly an instrument for globalism — as opposed to an instrument for the bettering of Western civilization.”
President Trump’s recent visit to Europe this month provided a fresh opportunity for Bannon to promote his new plans. Setting up in a five-star hotel in central London’s wealthy Mayfair neighborhood, Bannon and Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam made TV appearances as “Trump surrogates” as the Daily Beast described it. They also hosted a number of Europe’s far-right political leaders at the hotel.
“It was so successful that we’re going to start staffing up,” Bannon told the Daily Beast. “Everybody agrees that next May is hugely important, that this is the real first continent-wide face-off between populism and the party of Davos. This will be an enormously important moment for Europe.”
Bannon expects to have fewer than 10 full-time staff before the 2019 elections — this will include a polling expert, communications person, office manager, and researcher. Hiring will then increase after the May election if their work has been successful.
Paraphrasing John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, Bannon said: “I’d rather reign in hell, than serve in heaven.”