Alice Scarsi — Express.co.uk Feb 24, 2018
ITALIAN election front-runner Matteo Salvini has pledged in his party’s manifesto to be a thorn in the European Union’s side, which he dubbed ‘a strong and fearsome enemy’.
The leader of the right-wing League said he will fight Brussels to make sure “Italians come first” should he become Italy’s next Prime Minister in the March 4 Italian general election.
The party leader dubbed the “Italian Farage” could become one of the most dangerous politicians within the Union, as he has threatened the bloc to withdraw Italy’s funds and even trigger an “Italexit” if his demands for Italy aren’t greeted.
Focusing his electoral campaign on fighting illegal immigration and protecting Italy from the EU’s “unfair” financial laws, he has often criticised both Eurocrats’ calls for greater integration and the euro, which he renamed “a German currency”.
He has often claimed that the regulations imposed by the European Union are damaging Italian industries and the Italian economy.
Earlier today, Mr Salvini vowed to stop bowing to damaging regulations and directives coming from Brussels.
Speaking on La7 Coffee Break, he said: “We need to put Italian interests before those of the European Union, or at least at the same level.
“The laws imposed by Brussels damage Italian artisans, traders, pensioners, but hey, Europe is asking so we have to obey.”
Mr Salvini also complained that only a small group of people in Europe holds “the real power” to take decision for the whole bloc, obliging the other members to “serve” rather than participate as equal partners.
Mr Salvini has pledged to “defend Italy from the invasion” and avoid an “Islamification of the society”, called for the EU to change core immigration treaties and urged Italy to close its borders.
Hailing Brexit as an example to follow and an opportunity, the Eurosceptic said that unless Italy changes its position and relevance in Europe “there is no point in continuing to pay the EU”.
Earlier this year he said in an interview to Italian TV channel La7: “I will fight until the end to try and change the rules of this Europe.
“They can give me two answers: they can say yes, or they can say no.
“If they say yes to my proposals, I’ll be happy to stay in Europe with a purpose.
“If they say no, I need to be ready to defend Italian people’s economic interests, debating everything, starting from the euro.”
Mr Salvini, who in 2014 stated that it is “impossible to reform the EU, it should just be demolished and rebuilt from the ground”, has been battling Brussels from within since he was first elected MEP in 2003.
His anti-EU positions could weaken the alliance with Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi, who with Mr Salvini and Brothers of Italy’s leader Giorgia Meloni form the centre-right wing coalition, currently ahead in the polls.
Europhile Mr Berlusconi, who can’t run as a PM because of a fraud conviction, has reassured his allies in Europe that, should his coalition win, the Italian parliament will not choose a Eurosceptic prime minister.
Yesterday, the former Italian PM said: “Matteo Salvini wishes to rule the coalition, but Forza Italia is four points ahead in the latest polls.
“Only the party which will gain more votes will put forward his leader’s name”.
The League’s popularity has been growing in the last months.
If Mr Salvini’s party won over Forza Italia, Mr Berlusconi could be forced to accept the Eurosceptic as a new prime minister and follow his lead against the EU.