"Let them call you xenophobes". Let them call you nativist. "Wear it as a badge of honor", he said.
Le Pen a year ago made it to the run-off in the French presidential election which she then lost to Emmanuel Macron, whose policies she said were "putting down the middle and lower classes".
"I won't go to Lille because I don't want to become ... an accomplice to the assassination of the National Front that will be underway there", he told RTL radio.
In Milan after meeting members of Italy's nationalist Five Star Movement, he told the New York Times that "All I'm trying to be is the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement" and is considering options for re-entering the global media market after being pushed out of Breitbart.
"Right or left doesn't mean anything and doesn't reflect the real division in France today which is between those who feel the nation is an obstacle and those who feel the nation is a jewel to be defended", she said. "And history is on our side". Bannon gave his first European speech in Zurich earlier in the week and said Saturday that he was traveling the world to learn.
Donald Trump's ex-chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has turned his gaze to European politics. But the pair had a bitter public falling out and Bannon was sacked by the White House last August, though he continued to speak with Trump and tried to promote the president's agenda.
In the meantime, she emphasized that the political views of the National Front would not change; it will stand for "the defense of identity, French culture, security, the fight against immigration, and the defense of a social model, of national solidarity and especially of national sovereignty".
Marion Marechal-Le Pen, a former lawmaker, is more socially conservative and economically liberal than her aunt.
Le Pen came to Lille vowing to ditch the tainted FN brand, seen as a key hurdle to winning power, in favour of an as yet unannounced new name.
Le Pen, the only candidate for National Front president, says the changes amount to a "cultural revolution" so the reshaped party can "implant itself, create alliances and govern".
"We're at a turning point. don't bury us", she said in an interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper published Friday.
Macron won with 66% of the vote vs. 34% for Le Pen, who had threatened to curb immigration and pull France out of the European Union, among other measures. Jean-Marie Le Pen also is to be scratched from the party's books along with his title of honorary president-for-life.
A new name, leadership structure and bylaws are being unveiled at the conference this weekend with the aim of the party becoming relevant again.