Le Pen Panama Papers
Marine Le Pen, leader of France's Front National party, with her father Jean-Marie Le Pen Reuters

The leader of the French far-right political party Front National (FN) should be barred from entering Britain, according to a senior spokesperson for the Vote Leave campaign. Gisela Stuart, a eurosceptic Labour MP who co-chairs the campaign, has said that Marine Le Pen holds "divisive and inflammatory" views and that the visit she has promised to make to the UK in support of Brexit would not be "conducive to the public good".

Le Pen, who has led FN to unprecedented electoral success in recent years, is planning to travel to Britain at some point in the next few weeks. She wants to help promote the campaign to guide the UK out of Europe and wants France to hold a similar referendum.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, another key figure in the Leave campaign, has said that he will not support a ban on Le Pen entering Britain. But he did say that her presence would be "unhelpful" and admitted that he would "rather she didn't come".

Ban request

Stuart has written to Home Secretary Theresa May to urge her to use her powers to bar divisive figures from the country to prevent Le Pen's arrival. According to Stuart, the Frenchwoman "has previously made many divisive and inflammatory comments, including comparing Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation of France".

"Accordingly, I urge you to exercise your powers under immigration legislation to refuse her admission into the country if and when she attempts to visit the UK," she said.

Stuart cited "ample precedent" in the matter, as May has banned more than 217 people from entering Britain since 2010, according to 2014 figures. This includes 84 so-called "hate preachers", 72 people whose presence was described as "not conducive to the public good", and 61 on grounds of national security.

On the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, however, the home secretary would not be drawn on the subject. She told him that she "never talks about individual decisions".

People who have previously been banned from entering the UK by home secretaries include Stephen Donald Black, who founded the neo-Nazi website Stormfront; the late Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church; the late Rev Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Moonies; and Omar Bin Laden, the son of Osama Bin Laden.