Italy news: Eurosceptic anger as Matteo Salvini abandons Italexit | World | News

Mr Salvini, 47, has been an outspoken critic of the EU, but has backed the former president of the European Central Bank to take over power in Italy. The leader of right-wing Lega Nord party has been leading the calls for Italy to follow Brexit and leave the EU27 – but has now made a dramatic U-turn. Italy has been plunged into crisis following the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

The government collapsed after the liberal Italia Viva party withdrew support from the ruling coalition.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella has since asked Mr Draghi to form an administration following an ongoing stalemate in parliament.

Mr Salvini pledged to support Europe when announcing his backing for Mr Draghi.

Speaking on Radio 24, he said: “I leave the labels to others: fascist, communist, Europeanist. I am a pragmatic person.

“If, with Professor Draghi, we can talk about lower taxes for people and businesses, I am in.”

He added: “We have hands, feet, hearts and brains in Europe, but I want a Europe which defends Italian businesses and agriculture.”

He insisted with Mr Draghi at the helm Italy “can stay in Europe with our heads held high”.

Mr Salvini’s surprise decision has sparked anger across Europe from a number of leading figures.

Former French MEP Florian Philippot accused Mr Salvini of giving up on guiding Italy out of the European Union – but insisted France would not surrender its pursuit of the so-called Frexit.

He said: “When you give up leaving the EU and the euro, you end up giving it all up. And become a Europeanist at the end.

“It is the fate of Salvini, who formalises his Europeanist ‘conversion’ and supports Draghi… Here Rassemblement National follows the same route.

“We are not giving up: Frexit!”

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Former member of the National Rally in France, Francois Asselineau, branded the latest development as another example of a “scam” and insisted the bloc would not change.

He insisted Mr Salvini will become a supporter of the European Union like Greek opposition leader Alexis Tsipras and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

He wrote on Twitter: “New illustration of the scam of those who promise ‘another European Union’. Like Tsipras or Kurz, Salvini stands behind the European Union

“He supports the former president of the ECB Draghi as head of the Italian government!”

He added: “Even with the best patriotic intentions, a leader who stays in the EU and the euro is very quickly OBLIGED TO FULFIL the treaties and rules of the 26 other states. No other choice!”


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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has also been a fierce critic on the EU, and leading newspaper Nepszava criticised the decision of Mr Salvini.

It said: “A future new Draghi government could accelerate Salvini’s moderation process.

“But that also means the Hungarian government will have one less ally at the EU level.”

Former leader Silvio Berlusconi’s and his centre-right Forza Italia party, the fourth largest in parliament, gave its unconditional backing to Mr Draghi after a meeting on Friday.

Mr Berlusconi said a Draghi-administration would be one “founded on the unity of the country and of the political forces without any preclusion”.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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