Steve Bannon built his career on right-wing politics inside the United States but now he’s taking on a new frontier: the European Parliament.
Bannon described his plan to create a right-leaning foundation called “The Movement” to The Daily Beast. He plans to establish its headquarters in Brussels.
The Movement, according to Bannon’s account, is envisioned as a non-profit organization that will serve as the right’s equivalent of George Soros’ Open Society.
Bannon’s goal is to create a hub where the populist right can receive help with polling, research, voter targeting, policy proposals, and field operations among other efforts to help unite European populist groups.
A staff of no more than 10 is expected to take on the task of running the foundation up until the 2019 elections for the European Parliament. If that goes well – meaning if populist candidates make it into Parliament – Bannon is hoping to bring on a full time staff of about 25, The Beast reported.
Bannon did not respond to NPR’s request for an interview on his project.
He told The Beast that he’s optimistic about uniting Europe’s right wing across its national boundaries — an idea he says was sparked when France’s Marine Le Pen asked him to speak before her Front National.
Le Pen was defeated by French President Emmanuel Macron and his more centrist movement, En March.
Bannon wants to help Le Pen and other European leaders on the political right in future contests, including the coming European elections. In his speech this spring, he urged populist leaders to stand firm in their positions.
“Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor,” NPR reported in March.
Following November’s midterm elections in the U.S., Bannon said he will spend half of his time in Europe laying the groundwork for his foundation. But not all of Europe is looking forward to his arrival.
Guy Verhofstadt, who has been a member of European Parliament since 2009 and is the president of ALDE, tweeted his disapproval of Bannon bringing his headquarters to Belgium and started the hashtag #BanBannon.
“Steve Bannon’s far-right vision & attempt to import Trump’s hateful politics to our continent will be rejected by decent Europeans. We know what the nightmare of nationalism did to our countries in the past. We must #BanBannon! #GenerationEurope must stop him!,” Verhofstadt wrote.
The tweet received 4.2k retweets and 9.6k likes. Other Europeans tweeted similar sentiments.
“Bannon is a malignant far-right rabble-rouser.
In his case I agree, just this once, with the no immigration mob!
Keep him out of Europe.
He is a creature of Trump’s America!
#BanBannon, ” @VeroVero777 tweeted.
One user even evoked an iconic Mean Girls meme, “You can’t sit with us.”
“On behalf of #Europe, can someone please give @StephenBannon this message. RT, or in person, either is fine.
#GenerationEurope #BanBannon,”@OxfordDiplomat tweeted.
Bannon helped mastermind President Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. He went on to serve as Trump’s chief strategist until August of 2017, although he remains active in American politics as an advocate for the president and his base.